Hard-to-burn, lightweight 3D printing goop can be used to print airplane parts

Sabic's Ultem 9085 is 3D printing goop for the Stratasys FDM machine; with a high burning point (and a tendency to self-extinguish) and low toxicity when burned, it can be used to make aircraft parts. Here's Joris Peels taking a brulee torch to a finished piece made of Ultem (admittedly, a brulee torch generates nothing like the heat from burning aviation fuel; but it's comparable to conventional and electrical fires).

We try to burn Ultem 9085 a 3D printing material for commercial aircraft (via Make)


  1. Um. What and where would something like this be employed on a plane?
    Although, it doesn’t engulf in flames, it certainly doesn’t look like a very strong material for anything that’s already “fire resistant”.
    Would it be used as a fire guard in the fuselage?
    I sure hope the engines aren’t attached with that compound.

  2. fail.

    i agree with the first commenter, the material starts to burn whenever he leaves the torch still for even a second.

    even highly flammable materials such as marshmallows and sugar blacken the same way without bursting into flame when you keep the same torch moving in the same manner. that’s why it’s called a crème brûlée torch.

  3. You can get the same effect of flame by using a propane torch on a piece of steel. Last time I checked steel doesn’t burn, but the interactions of hot material and the atmosphere can create ionized particles (flames) even where there was no actual burning.

  4. So how does that random hunk of plastic deal with a blow from a hammer? Or squeezed with vice grips? In other words, just how strong is it?

  5. This is cool but I am still waiting for some kind of vacuum ion implant type particle gun so we can do metals like titanium. Sure it takes forever but then we are talking metal that means fabbing jet engines and helicopter transmissions which are a pain to machine and you end up buying used up surplus. I look forward to the Diamond age ubiquitous fabber.

  6. This stuff ain’t worth jack squat. I sure don’t want to be the first fool up in a plane made out of this stuff. Hell, even if it DIDNT’ catch on fire from flying (a jet) then it would probably just break in half after flying past the speeds of sound (a jet). Great idea, Einsteins. :/

  7. Just because you are using a creme brulee torch, doesn’t mean that you should pretend the plastic is creme. Hold the torch still and see what it does.

    Seems more like a Billy Mays commercial rather than a real experiment.

  8. It seems like I’m always the devil’s advocate on these boingboing discussions, but… I am a private pilot and I feel like my opinion is worth something on this;

    It looks like the piece he’s bruleeing is a cockpit cooling inlet; just a direct hole in the windshield that lets in some outside air to keep things comfy.

    I’d never trust an engine fabbed out of this stuff, but a throttle knob? A dashboard with holes cut out for the instruments? Sure, a brulee torch doesn’t generate the same heat as burning avgas- but if you’re directly burning avgas inside your cockpit, maybe you have bigger problems. If you recall from the WTC, burning fuel melted the steel supports (don’t let’s start the ‘black helicopters’ argument, truthers).

    I’m just sayin’- the self-extinguishing property is probably good enough for most applications. If this stuff catches on fire, it probably won’t be what kills you.

  9. Just wait until Homeland Security overhears that terrorists can now “print airplane parts”… *nods ominously*

  10. “a brulee torch generates nothing like the heat from burning aviation fuel”

    Not true. Butane and propane have a slightly higher maximum flame temperature than gasoline and only a little short of that of kerosene. More importantly, because of the ideal air mixture and burner design, the torch will have a far higher temperature than an a typical fuel-rich fire with natural ventilation. Blue flames are hotter than yellow/orange flames.

  11. So what about it burning, what about it melting?

    This is FDM, Fused Deposition Modelling, where a fine thread of the material is almost melted and layered in any given pattern. I believe it uses thermoplastic materials, not thermoset, thus the part would easily melt (or at the very least, go plastic/flexible) when brought up to temperature. At that point, it’s no longer the part you printed, just a blob.

  12. Guys,

    Please keep in mind that Ultem 9085 is not immune to flame and has a heat deflection rating like every thermoplastic. It is rated at 333 degrees F. This video is inteneded to demonstrate that Ultem 9085 is self extinguishing when exposed to flame, and will extinguish within 5 seconds after the flame is removed. Ultem 9085 is FS&T (flame, smoke and toxicity) rated by the FAA, and therefore is approved for onboard aircraft use. It is well suited for interior cabin hardware and other non flight critical applications. The value add of 3D printing these parts is that there is no CNC programming, and there is no material waste as with subtractive machining. You can run an FDM machine lights out with no operator intervention. Additionally, you can produce 3D shapes that are impossible with traditional machining methods.

    I hope this helps clarify any misunderstandings.

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