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SLS Polyketone for Fuel Tank Applications

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Fuel tanks for low volume or specialized applications have long been an application space where polymer powder bed fusion excels. Parts can be printed in conformal or unique geometries, making use of additive manufacturing’s limited design restrictions. For industries such as unmanned aircraft or powersports, these tanks parts are produced at quantities that are cost- competitive or better than conventional molding methods. The fuel blends used however tend to present challenges for commercially available polymer PBF materials due to their corrosive or caustic nature. Naturally chemically resistant materials such as PEEK and PEKK are too brittle to withstand the impacts inherent to such industries. Polyamides fit the application well mechanically, but lack the chemical resilience, and so require interior coatings that are difficult to apply uniformly. Polyketone is a well-suited polymer for both needs: it features a high degree of impact strength, while naturally being resistant to most fuels and fuel additives without the need to treatments or coatings. Combining these material characteristics with the low cost of the polymer, polyketone should help grow this application space.

Learning Objectives:

  • Polyketone’s combination of impact toughness and chemical resistance makes it the best suited SLS material for fuel tank applications.
  • The ease of manufacture, and insurance of performance, over printed-and-coated materials lend polyketone to end-use applications.