Hubs is now Protolabs Network. Find out more

Get instant quote

ULTEM 1010 - 3D Printing - What Is It And When To Use?

Hi and welcome to this episode of Mastering Manufacturing. Today we are going to be talking about ULTEM 1010 for 3D printing. But before we start, don’t forget to subscribe!

Ultem was originally developed by General Electric Plastics Division (now SABIC) in the early 1980s and has been a staple of the manufacturing industry for over 30 years. It’s often used in the medical, aerospace and food industry.

What is ULTEM 1010 resin?

Ultem 1010 is a plastic material that is used in industrial FDM 3D printers. It offers the highest heat and chemical resistance of any FDM thermoplastic. It also has one of the highest tensile strengths. ULTEM 1010 stands out from other high-performance polymers because it is uniquely designed to remain mechanically stable under extreme conditions. More on its properties later.

What kind of material is ULTEM 1010?

ULTEM 1010 is a trade name for PEI. Polyetherimide (PEI) is an amorphous, amber-to-transparent thermoplastic that is very similar to PEEK. However, PEI is a lot cheaper than PEEK. ULTEM costs about a third of what PEEK costs! The polymer hardens in a cross-linked pattern that prevents it from re-melting, even under extreme heat.

What are ULTEM 1010’s mechanical properties?

The glass transition temperature of PEI is 217 °C (422°F). ULTEM’s ultimate tensile strength is 48-81MPa Heat Deflection: 207 degrees. The yield strength is 41-64 MPa Young’s modulus 2.2 - 2.8 GPa Elongation at break: 2 - 3.3% Thermal expansion coefficient 41-47 10^-6 Celcius Impact strength is 32 j/m It’s amorphous density at 25 °C (77 F) is 1.27 g/cm3(.046 lb/in³).

What are the main benefits of ULTEM 1010? Why would you use ULTEM 1010?


ULTEM 1010 is very very strong and incredibly durable. As mentioned before its tensile strength is between 48-81MPa. That’s why it’s often used in the transportation industry. ULTEM actually holds several aerospace certifications and is FDA compliant. In planes and rockets, ULTEM is used in cable ducts, ventilation systems, and hinges.

Heat resistance

Ultem can withstand temperatures upwards of 217°C for extended periods of time and remain dimensionally stable in fluctuating temperatures. ULTEM 1010’s glass transition is 217 degrees, making it perfect for steam autoclaving. ULTEM can go through thousands of rounds of steam autoclaving before starting to degrade. That’s why many medical professionals use instruments, such as surgical guides, made from ULTEM. Electrical component manufacturers use ULTEM in insulation parts, connectors, and chip test sockets because of its high heat resistance.

Chemical resistance

Amorphous thermoplastics have the tendency to crack when they come into contact with fats and oils from food and fluids used for servicing cars and aircraft. Ultem 1010 however, is resistant to a wide range of chemicals such as automotive fluids, alcohols, acids, aliphatic hydrocarbons and aqueous solutions. Not only can ULTEM resist stress cracking when coming in contact with these fluids, but it is also resistant to ultraviolet rays and gamma radiation.

A really good FST score

Ultem 1010 is inherently flame resistant. It’s really hard to ignite, with a limiting oxygen index (LOI) of 47%, meeting UL94 V0 specifications in sections as thin as 0.41 mm. Ultem 1010 generates extremely low smoke per the NBS smoke evolution test.

unique certifications

The certified grade of this material is biocompatible and approved for food contact with NSF 51 and ISO 10993/USP Class VI certifications. That means you’re able to use it in parts that handle food preparation and are able to place them inside the human body. Btw, ULTEM is the only FDM material that is NSF 51 certified. However, keep in mind that FDM printed materials have layers = a lot of surface for bacteria.

Closing thoughts

That’s it for our episode on ULTEM 1010. We hope you enjoyed it. There is a lot more to learn about ULTEM that we couldn’t cover in this video. Leave any question you have in the comments below or go to our website to find out more about ULTEM 1010. Thanks for watching, don’t forget to like and subscribe and see you in the next video.