German Research Institute Uses VSHAPER ONE Pro 3D Printer to Study and Analyze Metal-Polymer Hybrid Structures

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The trend of hybrid manufacturing has been growing steadily, and manufacturers are interested in machines that combine 3D printing technology with more conventional methods like CNC milling and robotics. The LASIMM (Large Additive Subtractive Integrated Modular Machine) Project began in late 2016, and is focused on developing a large-scale manufacturing machine that combines several subtractive and additive technologies. One of the participating institutions for the project is the German Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG) Centre for Materials and Coastal Research, but manufacturing machines aren’t the only hybrid technology the non-profit research institute is interested in.

HZG is focused on developing and testing lightweight and advanced engineering materials, which should be able to improve how effectively energy is used in production processes. Most industrial companies are focused on attaining energy efficiency, and many research institutes, HZG included, are studying solutions that could help conserve energy resources and raw materials. HZG is working with Polish 3D printer manufacturer Verashape to use its VSHAPER ONE Pro 3D Printer in order to study and analyze metal-polymer hybrid structures.

The VSHAPER One Pro, which was recently presented at Hannover Messe with Verashape’s other 3D printers, was designed to create prints with enhanced thermal and mechanical endurance, often used as alternatives to manufactured elements made of metal. It features a heated table, and its patented extruder head reaches up to 450°C, making it possible to create precise prints using PEEK material.

HZG scientists needed flexibility for their research, in order to use multiple parameters to improve a part’s mechanical performance. They also needed a 3D printer that was able to print using engineering thermoplastics like PEI and PEEK.

Rielson Falck, PhD candidate from HZG, who uses this 3D printer in his research, said, “VSHAPER ONE Pro is the best available 3D Printer able to print high-performance polymers.”

Several industries, from civil engineering and transportation to medical appliances, have been successful in developing new fabrication techniques and materials, which has resulted in the development of new lightweight alloys, like titanium, magnesium, and aluminum, and advanced polymer-based materials, like nanocomposites and Fiber Reinforced Plastics (FRP). But these new materials have changed up the existing framework for lightweight construction, so alternative and advanced joining technologies are now needed to create or join multi-material structures.

HZG developed multiple manufacturing techniques to try and disable, or at least get around, the limitations in the existing polymer-metal joining methods, such as:

Example of AddJoining manufacture route using fused deposition modeling to manufacture layered hybrid structure. [Image: HZG]

But thanks to the VSHAPER ONE Pro and a few other devices, HZG also developed, and filed a patent application for, its new AddJoining concept, which manufactures layered metal-polymer hybrid structures through polymer additive layer manufacturing and joining technology; the basic concept is illustrated above.

Single-lap joint combining metal and polymer developed based on AddJoining concept with VSHAPER ONE Pro 3D Printer. [Image: HZG]

Professor Sergio Amancio, a materials engineer from HZG, explained, “The AddJoining manufacturing route, when creating layered hybrid structure is executed in 6 steps: metallic substrate clamping, material feeding through extruder head, first polymer layer, second polymer layer, removing the clamping and final part.”

HZG scientists, under Professor Amancio, are now working to develop welding and joining processes, and applications for large-scale 3D printing and metal-polymer hybrid structures, based on their individual material processing methods.

You can learn a little more about HZG in the following video; please note that the video is in German:

Discuss in the VSHAPER forum at 3DPB.com.

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