Here’s a look at some recent developments in the additive arena we saw last fall at EuroMold that can allow you to create things much more expeditiously than you otherwise might. . .
Double beaming it. The SLM 500 HL is a selective laser melting machine for additive manufacturing operations that increases throughput though the use to what the company describes as “unique double beam technology.”
That is, instead of using a single laser to melt the metal powder, there are two fiber lasers deployed, one 400 W and the other 1,000 W. They can work at the same time, independently or in parallel. This helps account for faster part build. The scan speed is 15 m/sec. The build speed is 70 cm3/hr.
The build chamber measures 500 × 280 × 325 mm.
The SLM 500 HL is available from SLM Solutions GmbH (slm-solutions.com).
Clean sheet of paper—and then some. While some people talk about making 3D printing widely available, one company with technology that really facilitates accessibility is Mcor Technologies (mcortechnologies.com).
That’s because the build material that is used in its new IRIS system for creating photo-realistic 3D models measuring as large as 9.39 × 6.89 × 5.9 in. is paper. As in the paper you can buy by the ream at your local office supply store.
And when you’re thinking about “printing,” your first notion is that of putting ink on paper, and that’s part of the process involved in creating models with the IRIS system.
That is, the company actually developed a special ink for the system that permeates the paper and the sheets are printed on both sides so that the colors on all surfaces of the parts (the company claims IRIS “prints in more than one million hues simultaneously”) are true to the as-designed model.
The sheets of paper are glued together with a water-based adhesive, and the shapes are cut into the paper as required by the model (the positioning on the blade is 12 microns; the file formats for printing are STL, OBJ, and VRML).
Dr. Conor MacCormack, co-founder and CEO, says that this paper-based approach is “20 to 30 times cheaper than plastic.”
What’s more, the models can be disposed of in a recycling bin.
Is additive the right way to go? Additive manufacturing (AM) specialist company Materialise (materialise.com) has developed a rather clever way to determine how well suited a part being designed is to AM. Explains Bar Van der Schueren, executive vice president, the 3DPrintBarometer application (3DPrintBarometer.com) asks five different questions about the part, each question having a continuum between small and large, simple and complex, few and many, and use.
• Part size: from a ping pong ball to a space hopper (one of those toys that a child sits on and bounces)
• Part complexity: from no undercuts to impossible to mold in one piece
• Project value
• Series size: from 1 to over 10,000
• Purpose: from functional to visual
Make the selections and the application processes the information. The result is expressed in a percentage of how well the part lends itself to 3D printing.
Bigger parts done in one. According to David Reis, CEO of Stratasys (the company that is the result of the merger between Stratasys and Objet; stratasysfora3dworld.com), there are some 14 million CAD seats in the world, of which some five million are 3D CAD. There is a conversion of about 1 million seats of 2D to 3D annually. So, he concludes, there is a greater demand for 3D printers as designers go more 3D.
There is another capability that Reis says is of growing interest: printing bigger parts.
So they’ve developed what they’re describing as a “wide-format printer,” the Objet 1000. This system provides a build envelope of 39.3 × 31.4 × 19.6-in. Because this unit can print big parts, there are six resin cartridges with a total capacity of 108 kg. The Objet 1000 uses the company’s Connex multi-material build capability, which means that there are over 120 materials to select from (which simulate both standard and ABS-grade plastics); a single model can include up to 14 different materials.
According to Ofer Nir, product manager for the system, it features an industrial-grade design with the intent of allowing users to run it 24/7. This high utilization, he says, can help accelerate the ROI for the equipment.
Yes, it has a conveyor belt. voxeljet (voxeljet.com), a 3D printing systems and service provider, has developed what Dr. Ingo Ederer, company CEO, claims is “the world’s first continuous 3D printer,” the VXC800.
“The building and unpacking process steps now run in parallel, without a need to interrupt the operations of the system,” Ederer explains.
That is, there is a horizontal belt cover that controls the layer building; layers are built at the entrance of the conveyor, and unpacking, or unloading, takes place at the exit. The machine works with layer thicknesses ranging from 150 to 400 µm. The build envelope is 800 × 500 mm in width and height, with the lengths of the molds produced limited primarily by the manageability of handling the part.
The material powdered material that isn’t printed (i.e., is not attached by binder material) is returned straight to the build zone from the unload area.
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