formnext 2019 just wrapped up in Frankfurt, but we still have plenty of news to share from the show floor, including the announcement of a new partnership between global science-based company Royal DSM, Chromatic 3D Materials, and German RepRap (GRR). Together, the three will be working to develop flexible, high-performance 3D printing solutions in polyurethane (PU) parts for a variety of industries, such as rail, footwear, and automotive.
Flexible materials can be used to make many different parts, but it’s not always easy to 3D print with PU and similar materials. That’s why these three companies, from different parts of the 3D printing value chain, are working together to remove the barriers from, and make sure that manufacturers have proper access to, the necessary expertise and resources for 3D printing high-performance parts with Chromatic’s FlexTune line of durable, flexible, and reliable PU elastomer materials.
“Many high-performance parts require a degree of flexibility in their daily use. Removing barriers that stand in the way of the adoption of this technology by teaming up with partners like Chromatic and GRR clearly underscores the power of DSM’s 3D printing ecosystem. Combining these partners’ expertise across the 3D printing value chain helps make 3D printing more attainable and offers manufacturers a complete solution,” stated Hugo da Silva, DSM’s VP of Additive Manufacturing. “Together, we can unlock the full potential of additive manufacturing and scale 3D printing to industrial production levels.”
In this partnership, GRR will make its knowledge and equipment accessible to manufacturers interested in adopting the FlexTune materials. According to Chromatic, this versatile line of materials can help make 3D printed products that go all the way from a flexible Shore A hardness of 40 to a rigid Shore A of 90. The company states that its “ability to customize the product is almost limitless.”
“The introduction of FlexTune 3D printable polyurethanes elastomers is a vital step for additive manufacturing to becoming the industrial process for manufacturing flexible parts. Elastomers are no longer just for prototypes, but durable enough to withstand the rigors expected of performance materials in commercial applications,” stated Chromatic 3D Materials CEO Cora Leibig. “The partnership of DSM’s market knowledge, GRR’s advanced printing capability and Chromatic’s ability to adapt thermoset materials to additive manufacturing is an exciting leap forward for the industry that we are proud to be engaged in.”
Examples of some of the specific applications that could really benefit from parts made out of flexible materials include train braking system gaskets, insoles for shoes, noise-reducing buffers and mechanical clutches for power transmission in cars, and hoses and bellows.
This isn’t DSM’s first experience with Chromatic – last year, it led a Series A funding round for the next-generation 3D printing materials company, and the two originally teamed up to introduce and explore thermoset materials for 3D printed parts, which offer more resilience and durability than thermoplastics. Now, partnering with GRR, both companies will be able to further market Chromatic’s FlexTune material line – now available around the globe.
“Due to this great collaboration with DSM and Chromatic our customers can now manufacture thermoset material parts that are difficult or impossible to produce by injection moulding,” said German RepRap CEO Florian Bautz. “At the same time the final parts have the same mechanical properties as injection-moulded parts, which brings major advantages for the future.”
The complete 3D printing solution that these three partners are offering will help many manufacturers enjoy the benefits of using flexible 3D printing materials.
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First introduced on the AM trade show circuit in 2017, the unique Liquid Additive Manufacturing (LAM) 3D printing process by industrial 3D printer manufacturer German RepRap works somewhat like FDM, as each layer is extruded and then cross-linked through thermal curing. This can create parts that have very interesting mechanical properties which could allow for many new applications in 3D printing.
The company’s LAM technology, developed in partnership with Dow Corning, works with materials that are not melted and then solidified again, as with FFF 3D printing. Instead, the process uses a liquid material, like German RepRap’s customizable polyurethane-based plastic, which is then vulcanized under heat exposure; this is what fully cross-links the individual deposited layers so they are firmly connected.
What also makes LAM such a unique AM process is that it allows for the industrial 3D printing of liquid or high viscosity material, such as Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR). The company claims that LAM 3D printing can make components with nearly the same properties as injection molded parts, which could prove useful in developing new customer groups that need a more economical method of manufacturing. Especially in flexible materials, this process could see many exciting applications in the medical or footwear arena. Silicone has excellent properties and many firms are very familiar with using it.
This fall, German RepRap presented its LAM process at formnext 2018, along with its first production-ready LAM 3D printer, the L280. The company has been working to further develop the technology for industry use, and is now introducing its new L320 LAM 3D printer, which is an “extremely stable” system, according to German RepRap, that has been “adapted to the high demands of industrial continuous operation.”
With a 250 x 320 x 150 mm build platform and weighing in at approximately 350 kg (without the cartridge system), the L320 features a touchscreen display for intuitive operation, industrial rollers and stand for easy handling, and volumetric extrusion with a lift and sunk system. The printer uses Simplify3D software, and its new printhead technology allows for precise metering and mixing ratios. The nozzle itself would seem to be one by German firm Viscotec but this was not disclosed.
LAM technology makes it possible to influence the application direction, in turn influencing layer-level vulcanization as well. The polymers used in this process have a better molecular structure, as base materials, rather than processed ones, are used. Because insights from 3D printed prototype models can be directly transferred to injection molding, customers benefit from a reduced time-to-market, and the design freedom afforded by 3D printing makes it possible to use cross, lattice, or honeycomb structures to fill parts for better optimization of customized products.
“A high-temperature halogen lamp releases activation energy to accelerate complete crosslinking, at the molecular level. This fine-tuned reaction, in both small and large objects, is ensured by the driving speed of the lamp,” German RepRap explains on its website. “Due to this thermal cross-linking, the printing time is considerably reduced, at the same time the printing result, especially also in terms of time savings, sets new standards.”
Through extensive testing and pilot applications, the company says that it has proven the reliability of its new L320 3D printer in achieving precise, continuous operation. The printer also features sound safety technology, which monitors the curing process, and the system also registers and displays any deviations; if there are any serious irregularities, the print job will automatically stop.
To request test prints, or to talk about purchasing the L320 for individual use, email email@example.com. Commercial users who require high reliability and availability can also get a maintenance contract and professional on-site service from trained German RepRap technicians. This service includes hardware and software training, in addition to maintenance and repair of the L320 itself.
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[Images: German RepRap]
We’re starting off today’s 3D Printing News Briefs with a product launch announcement – 3YOURMIND launched the full version of its Agile MES software software this week at AMUG 2019. Moving on, Sintratec will present its latest SLS 3D printer at RAPID + TCT next month in Detroit, Tiamet3D has joined Ultimaker’s material alliance program, and Sciaky entered into an agreement with KTM Consultants. Xometry just announced some important certifications, and nScrypt is 3D printing titanium parts. Moving on to the world of art and theatre, the Zurich Opera House is 3D printing props, and artist Andrea Salvatori worked with WASP to create a 3D printed art collection.
3YOURMIND Launched Agile Manufacturing Execution System (MES) Software
After spending five years providing order management systems to scale for some of the industry’s AM leaders, 3YOURMIND has finally moved its software solutions to a production environment with the launch of its Agile Manufacturing Execution System (MES) earlier this week at AMUG 2019. The software uses smart part prioritization, rapid scheduling, order tracking, and custom AM workflow creation to improve machine utilization and make production more efficient, and an Early Access Program (EAP) allowed the company to receive direct feedback on its Agile MES software from representatives at companies like EOS and Voestalpine. The next step will be working to finalize machine connectivity.
“For Agile Manufacturing, the Agile MES will need to both GET and PUSH data from all major AM machines and post-processing systems. We are already integrating the data from several vendors into our software and expect to support all major machines,” explained 3YOURMIND’s CEO Stephan Kühr. “Receiving and processing machine data allows us to provide the documentation that is needed for quality assurance and to increase the repeatability of additive manufacturing. Pushing data directly to machines will be the key to automating production.”
Sintratec Showcasing New SLS 3D Printer at RAPID + TCT
A few months ago, Swiss SLS 3D printer manufacturer Sintratec introduced its scalable, modular Sintratec S2. Now, the company will be presenting the printer in the US for the first time next month at RAPID + TCT in Detroit, which will also be Sintratec’s first time attending the massive event. What makes the Sintratec S2 stand out is its closed-loop workflow, as the complete system covers every process with its three modules: the Laser Sintering Station (LSS), the Material Core Unit (MCU), and the Material Handling Station (MHS). The 3D printer offers quick material changes, a 4K camera for print monitoring, improved ergonomics, and effective heat distribution through its cylindrical printing area and ring lamps.
“The Sintratec S2 will boost the design of applications and gives the user the opportunity to set foot in small series production as well. And that for an unusually attractive price-performance ratio,” said Sintratec CEO Dominik Solenicki.
“With the Sintratec S2 solution we will be opening new opportunities for companies of any size.”
The price for the Sintratec S2 starts at $39,900, and you can see it for yourself at Sintratec’s booth 1753 at RAPID + TCT from May 20-23.
Tiamet 3D Joins Ultimaker’s Material Alliance Program
Last year, Dutch 3D printing specialist Tiamet 3D, founded in late 2014, worked with Finland-based Carbodeon to develop the first nanodiamond-enhanced 3D printing filaments, which went on the market in September. Now the company has joined Ultimaker as a partner in its Material Alliance Program. Together, the two will offer end-users simple one click downloads of Tiamet’s ULTRA Diamond material profile, which is now available on Ultimaker’s Cura software. This collaboration is formally backed by Tiamet’s manufacturing partner Mitsubishi Chemical Performance Polymers (MCPP Netherlands).
Reid Larson, the Director and Co-Founder of Tiamet 3D, told us about some of the highlighted specs of its ULTRA Diamond material, including no additional nozzle wear, 6300 mpa stiffness, low moisture absorption and friction, improved thermal conductivity, and twice “the temperature resistance of normal PLA, Annealed goes to 125C HDT.” You can purchase one kg of ULTRA Diamond filament for €59.
Sciaky Increasing Sales Efforts Through New Agreement
In an effort to increase the sales efforts of its Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) solutions in Australia, the Middle East, and New Zealand, Sciaky, Inc. has entered into an agreement with KTM Consultants, founded by metallurgist Trent Mackenzie in 2015. In terms of sheer work envelope, Sciaky’s massive EBAM systems are the industry’s most widely scalable metal 3D printing solution, able to produce parts ranging from 8 inches to 19 feet at gross deposition rates of up to 25 lbs of metal an hour. Additionally, its Interlayer Real-time Imaging and Sensing System (IRISS) is the metal 3D printing market’s only real-time adaptive control system capable of sensing and digitally self-adjusting its deposition.
“I was immediately drawn to Sciaky’s EBAM technology because of its unique and robust capabilities. Industrial manufacturers of large metal parts need to explore the significant advantages that technologies like EBAM offer. It is truly a game-changer,” said Mackenzie.
Xometry Announces New Industry Certifications
Digital manufacturing marketplace Xometry announced that it has just received ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D certifications – some of the most rigorous, widely-recognized quality management designations in the industry. ISO 9001 helps organizations meet the needs and expectations of their customers in terms of quality management, while AS9100 meets customer demands in the exacting aerospace and defense industries. The company went through a major audit as part of the process, and its achievement definitely reflects how committed Xometry is to providing quality.
“We are thrilled to receive this designation. Our team members have a passion for providing great customer service while following the disciplines that give our customers peace of mind regarding on-time delivery, quality, and continuous improvement. It is yet another step towards achieving industry “best in class” status and being able to meet the expanded needs of our customers,” stated Xometry COO Peter Goguen.
nScrypt Develops Proprietary Method for 3D Printing Titanium
Florida manufacturer nScrypt, which develops high-precision Micro-Dispensing and Direct Digital Manufacturing equipment and solutions, is now focusing on repeatable 3D printing of metals for the medical, defense, and aerospace industries. The company has created a proprietary method for 3D printing titanium parts, which tests have shown display densities comparable to wrought parts. This method could easily work with other metals as well, such as copper, Inconel, and stainless steel, and nScrypt’s Factory in a Tool (FiT) systems can finish or polish areas with high tolerance features using its integrated precision nMill milling head. nScrypt’s Brandon Dickerson told us that the company expects to release more details on this later in 2019.
“The parts were printed with our SmartPump Micro-Dispensing tool head, which runs on any of our systems,” Dickerson told 3DPrint.com. “The parts shown in the photos were printed on our DDM (Direct Digital Manufacturing) system, also known as our Factory in a Tool (FiT) system, which can run 5 tool heads at the same time, including our Micro-Dispensing, Material Extrusion, micro-milling, and pick-and-place tool heads. The parts were sintered after the build and the current densities are in the high 90% range. We expect our system to appeal to customers who want to do Direct Digital Manufacturing and need strong metal parts, but cannot build them with a powder bed system (for example, if the geometry would trap powder inside) or prefer not to use a powder bed system (for example, if they want a cleaner system).”
Zurich Opera House 3D Printing Props with German RepRap
Switzerland’s largest cultural institution, the Zurich Opera House, puts on over 300 performances a year, but the behind-the-scenes magic happens in the studios and workshops, where the props and costumes are made. The opera house uses the x400 3D printer from German RepRap, with assistance from Swiss reseller KVT- Fastening, to support its creative work by fabricating props and molds. This affords the institution more creativity and flexibility, as they can design objects to their exacting needs in 3D modeling programs, which also helps save on time and money. The opera house currently uses PLA, which is easy to handle, offers a variety of colors, and is flame retardant – very important in a theatrical setting.
“Often, the wishes and ideas of costume and stage designers are very diverse and sometimes extraordinary. It often happens that props are not available in the way designers have it in their minds. This is where the 3D printer is perfect for,” said Andreas Gatzka, director of theater sculpture at the Zurich Opera House.
“There are a lot of great benefits. Special wishes of stage and costume designers can be realized quickly as well as a short-term change of the objects, for example larger, smaller, longer, shorter, or whatever is needed.”
3D Printed Art Collection
Artist Andrea Salvatori 3D printed the eye-catching pieces for his new collection, titled Ikebana Rock’n’Roll, using the Delta WASP 40100 Clay 3D printer – designed by WASP to be used by ceramic and clay artists. The collection just opened on stage at THE POOL NYC in Milan last week, and will be available to view until May 31st. With these 3D printed vases, Salvatori wanted to use “a miscellany of ceramic insertions” to mess with the high quality shapes 3D printing can achieve by adding asymmetry.
“The process of depositing the material and setting the spheres is a central theme in the Ikebana Rock’n’Roll collection, to the point of convincing Salvatori to name the works “Composition 40100”, as if they originated from a musical dialogue of the most varied tones. The artist upsets the algorithm reiterated slavishly by the machine with imperfect musical accents, the result from time to time of spontaneous actions and reasoned processes,” WASP wrote in a blog post.
“The ikebanes, proposed by Andrea Salvatori in the exhibition, transcend the experimental limits of an abstract investigation, representing a concrete territory in which 3D printing and ceramic art co-exist synergistically. The Master challenges the confrontation with the public, becoming also in this sector, precursor of a new genre in which WASP feels itself fully represented.”
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