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TPU: A Flexible Material for the Industry

TPU: A Flexible Material for the Industry

TPU, 3D SLS material,  meets any industrial applications

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is a fundamental element in industrial production with additive technologies, especially in the realm of 3D SLS printing applications.

At Prosilas, we take pride in working with BASF Forward AM‘s TPU88A, providing solutions in both white and black colors, and opening the doors to a wide range of industrial applications.

Characteristics of TPU 88A

TPU is a material that emulates rubber and is widely appreciated for its flexibility, strength, and elasticity.

Its workability allows the creation of parts with exceptional mechanical properties, making it ideal not only for prototypes but also for mass production.

Productive Collaboration with BASF Forward AM

The collaboration between Prosilas and BASF Forward AM has yielded significant results, such as the Skeleton Sole for Philipp Plein, the Lube Volley case study, and the validation of lattice structures printed in Ultrasint® TPU88A for the Ultrasim® software.

These projects exemplify a commitment to innovation and experimentation in the industrial field.

Properties and Industrial Applications of TPU


l poliuretano termoplastico (TPU) non è solo ideale per prototipi, ma si presta anche perfettamente per la produzione in serie con le tecnologie SLS.
  • Automotive

TPU excels in strength and rigidity, making it ideal for applications requiring a robust and durable structure. In the automotive industry, it is used for components such as gaskets, tubes, and mountings, where strength and integrity are essential to ensure optimal long-term performance.

  • Industry

Its chemical resistance makes it valuable in environments exposed to aggressive chemical agents. In the industrial sector, TPU is employed in gaskets, mountings, and machinery equipment, where resistance to chemical agents is crucial for the durability and efficiency of the equipment.

TPU maintains its performance over time, ensuring stability and reliability even under prolonged usage conditions. This characteristic makes it particularly suitable for industrial applications that demand long-term durability, such as gaskets and seals for industrial machinery.

  • Medical

3D printing with TPU allows for parts with exceptional detail resolution, ensuring precision in shapes and contours. This property is crucial in sectors like the medical industry, where precision is essential for prototyping and components for medical devices such as corrective insoles and prosthetic coverings.

The biocompatibility of TPU makes it safe for contact with the skin, making it ideal for medical applications like prototypes for medical devices and components for final devices, where safety and compatibility with the human body are crucial.

  • Sportswear

Due to its high impact resistance, TPU is widely used in protective devices such as cranial remodeling helmets and equipment for the sports industry, ensuring reliable and durable protection in potential impact situations.

Post-process treatments

The versatility of TPU also extends to the various finishes applicable to 3D-printed parts.

Among these, painting, coloring, vapor smoothing, and various types of coatings. From untreated finishing to steam chemical smoothing, TPU adapts to the aesthetic and functional needs of industrial applications.

BASF Forward AM + Prosilas: Validation of TPU88A in Ultrasim® Lattice Engine software

BASF Forward AM + Prosilas: Validation of TPU88A in Ultrasim® Lattice Engine software

BASF Forward AM + Prosilas Case History

A highly productive and longstanding collaboration has been established between Prosilas and BASF Forward AM over the years. This partnership has given rise to esteemed projects, including the research and production of Philipp Plein’s Skeleton Sole and the comprehensive Lube Volley Case Study.

When BASF Forward AM approached us for cooperation, we welcomed the opportunity with great enthusiasm.

Our involvement centered around the characterization of 3D printed lattice structures made of Ultrasint® TPU88A from BASF Forward AM. It aims to offer users pre-selected, validated lattices in Ultrasint® TPU88A on SLS machines to get a head start in their lattice application development.

For this, the validated lattices will be integrated into BASF Forward AM´s lattice ecosystem consisting of Ultrasint®TPU 88A Lattice Test Pads, Ultrasim® Lattice Library, and Ultrasim® Lattice Engine.

Prosilas will provide excellent print service with an in-dept know-how on printing lattice structures.

Prosilas successfully and expertly utilizes BASF Forward AM´s Ultrasint® TPU 88A. Annually, we process approximately 2000 kg of this TPU in our SLS machines.

Ultrasim® 3D Lattice Engine

What is Ultrasim® 3D Lattice Engine?


Ultrasim® 3D Lattice Engine, powered by Hyperganic, is a software application designed to efficiently populate geometric volumes with lattice structures. To achieve this, the software incorporates two key inputs: the STL file of the component requiring lattice infill and a pressure map for performance modulation.

Users can select the specific lattice structure type and hardness parameters from either the 3D printed Lattice Test Pad database or the Ultrasim® Lattice Library, a library containing all characterized lattice structures with in-depth mechanical data.


Upon making these selections, the software autonomously generates the chosen lattice structure within the specified volume. This process renders the file ready for subsequent 3D printing operations.

What is the Ultrasim® 3D Lattice Library?

All the results of the lattice characterization is stored in a library named Ultrasim® 3D Lattice Library. This library allows users to filter lattices by application (Footwear, Protection, Seating), by technical requirements and compare the strain-strain curves for different lattices structures. This way users can much easier find and identify the right lattice. Here you find more information about the library: Ultrasim® 3D Lattice Library​ .

Exaples of Lattice structure

Lattice Test Pads

What are the Lattice Test Pads, and what is their purpose?

Lattice Test Pads are the 3D printed version of the are Ultrasim® 3D Lattice Library.

They are 3D-printed TPU blocks divided into sections that specify the cell size and beam diameter. Each section provides information regarding the structure classification and hardness.

These Lattice Test Pads come in three types: footwear, seating, and protection. Each type features a lattice structure suitable for its respective application, such as shoe soles, seat cushions, headrests, or various protective elements.

TPU: incredibly flexible material in every sense

It is a thermoplastic material widely utilized in SLS 3D printing due to its exceptional elasticity, rebound, durability, and resistance to tearing, fatigue, and abrasion.

Lattice structures are repeating patterns composed of cells, beams, and nodes that aim to replace foam applications using a single material but different shore hardnesses.

There are countless variations of lattice structures, each exhibiting distinct mechanical behaviors.

Based on an in-depth study of TPU lattice structures, BASF Forward AM successfully characterized and validated lattice structures based on their behaviour for various applications.

This validation allows to pre-select lattices application in various industrial sectors, namely Footwear, Protection, and Seating.

Three types of Lattice Test Pads :footwear, seating, and protection

Roberto Nasini, Senior Technician Prosilas 

Contribution of Prosilas 

Prosilas has been involved in the lattice characterization process, providing various prints of the 3D Lattice Test Pad samples that allowed BASF Forward AM to conduct in-depth studies. These data were essential for furthering the progress of the software.

To ensure that the software consistently delivers high-quality results over time, specific machine parameters have been established for the fabrication of these structures. These parameters have been designed to set a printing standard, ensuring that software users obtain consistent and reliable results. This commitment to quality and consistency is crucial for the success and effectiveness of the software.

About BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH

BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, is a 100% subsidiary of BASF. It focuses on establishing and expanding the industrialization of 3D printing applications under the Forward AM brand with advanced materials, system solutions, components, and services in the field of 3D printing.

BASF 3D Printing Solutions operates in an agile structure to create customer value with complete 3D printing solutions, in collaboration with partners, for the most innovative applications. It cooperates closely with the global research platforms and application technologies of various departments at BASF and with research institutes, universities, startups and industrial partners. Potential customers are primarily companies that intend to use 3D printing for industrial manufacturing. Typical industries include automotive, aerospace and consumer goods.

For further information please visit: www.forward-am.com.

Marius Haefele, Basf Product Manager 

Lube Volley and Prosilas together to win, with the support of 3D printing

Lube Volley and Prosilas together to win, with the support of 3D printing

Lube Volley + Prosilas Case History

What Prosilas and Lube Volley have in common is not only their city of origin, Civitanova Marche, but also their shared pursuit of challenges and desire to succeed. For the esteemed Marche team, this translates into winning trophies and championships. Meanwhile, for Prosilas, it means constantly seeking innovative solutions to support the development of an increasingly demanding industrial market. The collaboration between the two companies was recently solidified through a sponsorship agreement, which prominently displays Prosilas’ name on the volleyball team’s uniforms. Additionally, they engage in a strong joint effort that connects sports achievements with the utilization of additive manufacturing.


Lube Volley, Prosilas-supported club is the  most successful in the 21st century


Champion of Italy 2022, Lube Volleyball is an acclaimed team, boasting  in its list of victories a World Club title, seven league titles (the last three won consecutively), two Champions Leagues, seven Italian Cups and four Italian Super Cups, three CEV Cups and one Challenge Cup. The team expresses a very high technical level of play, capable of always competing at the top: and when playing at high levels even small details can make a difference.

Lube Volley, the team

A tangible collaboration, thanks to 3D printing


When Enrico Diamantini and Ivan Zaytsev, two prominent athletes from the club, expressed their need for new hand protection devices during games, the relationship between Lube Volley and Prosilas evolved beyond a simple sponsorship. Prosilas immediately utilized its expertise in 3D printing to develop an innovative, customized, and tailored solution for both players.

We took the opportunity to get even closer to the world of medicine and sport, trying to develop a truly useful and professional application,’ says Vanna Menco, CEO Prosilas

Diamantini required an alternative to the temporary brace he had been using to support his injured right little finger, while Zaytsev needed a replacement for the medical tape he typically used to stabilize his fingers during high-impact phases of the game.

Ivan Zaytsev and Enrico Diamantini

The previous solutions had limitations in terms of materials, lacking of technical performance, reusability, and customization, which resulted in a sub-optimal playing experience. However, with the advent of 3D printing, Prosilas believed that they could overcome these limitations and produce custom-made and reusable devices with exceptional speed and precision.

For Diamantini, the old brace was rigid, bulky, and therefore uncomfortable. The negative impact on his ball touch led him to use it sporadically and only for the minimum required time. Similarly, Zaytsev sought a custom-made, reusable alternative that provided better sensitivity compared to traditional medical tape.

Through their collaboration with Prosilas, both athletes found the solution they were looking for, addressing their specific needs and improving their playing experience on the court.

Fast and successful product development

 The initial phase of the project focused on acquiring the 3D models of Diamantini and Zaytsev’s hands using the Gom Atos 5 3D scanner, which involved scanning plaster casts. Subsequently, the design phase commenced, incorporating reverse engineering techniques to accurately model customized designs. These designs were tailored to protect and immobilize the injured joint in one case, and provide comfortable support in the other. The devices underwent testing and, with valuable feedback from the athletes, were progressively refined to achieve the best possible results.

“The responsiveness of additive technology is truly remarkable. The initial contact with the players took place in October 2022, and after just five rounds of improvements, we were able to arrive at the final version of the devices for both players within a very short timeframe,” states the CEO of Prosilas.

3D scan of Ivan Zaystsev’s right hand

3D design through reverse engineering of protective devices

TPU protective devices being tested on the cast of Ivan Zaystsev’s right hand

TPU: a strategic choice


To create these customized and highly comfortable devices, Prosilas opted for BASF’s TPU Ultrasint 88a due to its flexibility and mechanical impact resistance. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is an elastic polymer known for its versatility and resilience. It can withstand shocks, abrasions, tears, chemical and weathering agents, and is impermeable to water and gases.

TPU is often considered the intersection between rubber and plastic, thanks to its physical characteristics, wide range of hardness options, and flexibility without the need for plasticizers.

For the initial test with Diamantini, three different TPU models were created using SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology, each with varying thicknesses of 1, 1.5, and 2 mm. TPU allows for slight variations in thickness, enabling flexibility in the final product.

For Zaytsev, an initial set of devices was produced with a consistent thickness of 2 mm to provide greater rigidity. Additionally, a lateral cut was made to improve the fit of the devices for him.

3D design through reverse engineering of protective devices

TPU protective devices for Enrico Diamantini in three different thicknesses: 1, 1.5 and 2 mm

Testing phase and results

“The results achieved through the utilization of additive technology are undeniably positive,” remarks Vanna Menco. “This is further corroborated by the outcomes of resistance tests conducted on the material by our supplier, BASF 3D Printing Solutions.”

 The testing phase was a critical step in the process. Collaborating with BASF, an effort was made to replicate a volleyball game in a laboratory setting. This involved evaluating the material’s chemical resistance, short and long-term durability, as well as color stability.

To assess the material’s mechanical stability, strength tests were conducted after 30 minutes, 7 days, and 14 days, with the parts immersed in synthetic sweat.

Tensile strength and elongation at break were measured at these intervals. Furthermore, a sudden impact test was performed to simulate crushing, and no significant changes were observed. The color measurement, which determined its stability over time, confirmed that there was no yellowing or noticeable alteration after 14 days. These results provide evidence of the material’s reliability and longevity.

TPU testing samples

Sudden impact test results

The remarkable durability and strength of the custom 3D-printed devices can be deduced from the absence of significant degradation observed during testing. This ensures the longevity of the product even under repeated stress and in special chemical conditions. Apart from the scientific findings, the enthusiastic feedback from the athletes themselves confirmed the positive results and the significant improvement in playability and game feel.

“I recommend the protection systems made by Prosilas to everyone. Because they are customized, they give maximum comfort in every technical gesture. It’s like not having them!”

says Enrico Diamantini, who used the device during his recovery from a dislocation.

Ivan Zaytsev, on the other hand, continues to use the customised devices on his hands. He says:

“Thanks to Prosilas, I immediately felt comfortable with hitting the ball, the four braces were  efficient and above all eco-friendly given the amount of tape they save me!


The combination of improved performance, stable feel, durable material, and complete customization results in an overall increase in comfort for athletes during competition, leading to an enhancement in playing performance.

Customization has become an essential trend in the world of ultra-competitive champions, and additive solutions go above and beyond by offering specific shapes and characteristics tailored to each individual athlete’s needs.


Working with BASF 3D Printing Solutions


BASF 3D Printing Solutions, operating under the Forward AM brand, is a division of BASF New Business GmbH that is specialized in advanced materials, system solutions, components, and services in the field of 3D printing. With a lean structure and an agile mindset akin to a start-up, BASF 3D Printing Solutions is well-equipped to cater to the diverse needs of various industries by offering innovative and customized services. The company works closely with other departments within BASF, research institutes, universities, start-ups, and industrial partners to serve customers in automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, and other product categories.

The partnership with BASF 3D Printing Solutions holds significant strategic importance for Prosilas, further solidified by the mutual respect between the two companies.

 “Prosilas brings extensive experience in printing our flexible TPU materials, ensuring the consistent delivery of superior quality parts,” explains Tobias Haefele, Product Manager Powder Bed Fusion. “We greatly appreciate their exceptional creativity,” he continues, “and their attitude to push the limits of the 3D printing market, paving the way for new applications, which align with our vision. With their specialist knowledge and established presence in sectors such as fashion, they have earned our trust as a reliable partner in consistently delivering exceptional products over the years. At BASF 3DPS, we are excited to continue our journey with Prosilas, forging a promising future for additive manufacturing.”

Prosilas for Philipp Plein, the shoe revolution starts from a 3D sole

Prosilas for Philipp Plein, the shoe revolution starts from a 3D sole

Philipp Plein Case History

Prosilas: AM Service & Consulting 

Since the beginning of our entrepreneurial adventure, in 2003, we have chosen not to specialize in a particular production sector, preferring to offer as a service to customers in different sectors. Thus, we have maintained a flexibility that has proved particularly successful when, in our transition from prototyping service to manufacturing ally, we were commissioned the sole of a shoe for one of the brands symbol of fashion luxury: Philipp Plein.


R&D on Tpu 

In 2020 we enabled the use of TPU, a rubber material widely used in the moulding of soles, on our SLS production systems.  This gave us the opportunity to start the collaboration with Philipp Plein, with the aim of creating a capsule collection of footwear in which to combine innovation and luxury, dedicated to a specific niche of the brand’s customers.   At the heart of the work, for us, was the creation of an attractive model in line with the taste of the brand and the development of a product that exceeded a series of requirements of strength and durability.

 3D Sole

In fact, the sole is one of the crucial elements of a shoe and one of the most stressed by the use. We then conducted a detailed study and a deep work on design and process to ensure replicability. For this reason we also supported the company that would then assemble the final shoe, facing and solving together specific processing problems that usually do not concern those who make prototypes.

The result ?

First, we got a sole completely out of the standard of a traditional ones, with a latticed structure; then, the opportunity to innovate the style thanks to the possibilities offered by 3D printing; finally, we opened doors to unique pieces, unthinkable (or infinitely more expensive) when all the process of creation must use injection moulding. 

Thank to a work like this, a progressive set of know-how is created that is completely new but can be used in all subsequent experiments. So, for example, for Philipp Plein shoes, we conducted several tests on the tightness of the colors of the soles, especially white – which should not turn yellow or turn on other shades – and black – which should not shin, so it can not be painted.

How was that possible?

The problem-solving business approach was essential

“There are no closed doors,” explains our CEO Vanna Menco, “We always accept challenges, we like to evolve and find solutions”. In this the imprinting of my father was fundamental, because – she continues – he “loves to crack his head on problems” and not by chance he still leads the Research and Development department.

Our transition from suppliers to consulting service  has been made possible by a know-how developed to support the customer at all stages of production, making available our deep expertise in 3D printing. So, we went from consulting at the prototype stage to consulting for all product development, also providing knowledge on specific steps, such as the blend of the material to be used to achieve a certain result.

Our constant commitment to be the best possible consulting service for AM world.