Plastics for Additive Manufacturing

The incredibly fast-growing 3D printing, or Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry, is challenging plastics manufacturers to consider how this technology will impact their market, operations and products. Unlike traditional manufacturing such as injection molding, the 3D printing process introduces a variability which significantly impacts material properties based on how test specimens are printed.

The Plastics for Additive Manufacturing Program (Blue Card Program) is a UL service that enables customers to have published data that facilitates pre-selection of 3D printed materials and components for use in various end products. It defines the requirements necessary to recognize plastics intended for 3D printing, proving the safety, integrity and usefulness of materials.

The UL Blue Card helps ensure that the component or end-product manufacturer is using a tested and certified material, as well as being monitored at regular intervals by an independent test laboratory.

When to use the UL Blue Card Program

The Blue Card Program is to be applied when the material has been processed using one of the following 3D printing technologies:

  • Material Extrusion
  • Powder Bed Fusion Systems
  • VAT Polymerization
  • Material Jetting
  • Binder Jetting
  • Sheet Lamination
  • Direct Energy Deposition

The Blue Card also includes:

  • information about the 3D print technology used to process the material;
  • the 3D printer model designation;
  • test specimen build parameters specific to the technology (e.g. build plane, raster angle, air gap, etc. for material extrusion technology) and,
  • multiple safety and performance-related property ratings tested to appropriate standards.

Blue Card vs Yellow Card: The Blue Card differs from the Plastics Recognition Program (Yellow Card Program) in that the Blue Card publishes plastics materials and components intended for 3D printing while the Yellow Card is typically applied for traditional manufacturing technologies such as blow molding, extrusion, film blowing, injection molding rotation molding and vacuum forming.

IMPORTANT NOTE: None of the performance properties/ratings from a UL recognized material (Yellow Card) can be applied, when that material is used in a 3D printing process to print a 3D part.

How to get a UL Blue Card

A Blue Card is automatically issued when a material intended for 3D printing receives a UL Recognized Component Mark. Certified materials are added to the UL iQTM and UL’s Prospector® databases.

Benefits of the UL Blue Card

The UL Blue Card benefits:

  • Material manufacturers producing materials for use in 3D printed components
  • Component manufacturers interested in using tested and certified materials to be able to offer certified 3D printed components
  • End-product manufacturers interested in using tested and certified 3D printed parts and components in their applications

As Material And Component Manufacturers:  Since certified materials are added to the UL iQTM and UL’s Prospector® databases, your Blue Cards are immediately visible to thousands of designers, engineers, and suppliers searching for a material or component provider who meets certain safety and performance requirements.

As End-Product Manufacturers:  Save time and money in the process of seeking certification for end products or systems by using the UL Certified plastics. UL certified plastics are also covered under UL’s Follow-Up Services – a product’s ongoing certification assessment that helps ensure that products continue to meet UL standards of safety and performance.

Boost Product Discoverability – Extend your UL Blue Card with a White Card

Manufacturers can add value by increasing coverage to include the performance properties customers are looking for – all backed up with third-party verification. The White Card, an extension at the bottom of a Blue Card (and Yellow Card), allows manufacturers to promote their product‘s performance credentials to the global markets. It relates to international standards, while the information on the Blue or Yellow Card is typically relevant to North America.

Blue Card