Roboze White Paper Compares FFF 3D Printing of Engineering-Grade Materials with Metal Production Processes

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Italian 3D printing group Roboze recently capped off its move into the US market with a strong showing of both its Roboze One and Roboze One +400 3D printers at RAPID last month. The industrial FFF Roboze One +400 offers a fast, affordable metal replacement solution, as it’s able to print using materials like PEEK and PEI; a few months ago, GE Global Research added the printer to its New York facility and plans to use it to manufacture PEEK parts for aerospace and other applications. Earlier this week, Roboze published a white paper, titled “PEEK 3D Printing vs Metal Production Processes,” comparing the use of high engineering-grade materials using Roboze solutions versus metal production processes.

Modern thermoplastics, like PEEK, are able to replicate a lot of the strengths of metal, minus the drawbacks: the materials can reduce weight, cost, and production time. The Roboze team recently tested three methods of production, using CNC machining, 3D metal printing, and FFF 3D printing with the Roboze One +400 to make the same part, in order to demonstrate that FFF 3D printing with PEEK really was the better choice. Roboze compared the two most important aspects that manufacturers take into consideration: the cost of producing the part, and how long the process takes.

The white paper, which is free to download, has the results of the production comparison, and focuses on relevant business aspects, which are a good jumping-off point to investigate how industries, just by adopting 3D printing technology, can have an advantage over their competitors.

According to Roboze, “The White Paper proves the importance of new generation materials in the global production environment, shifting attention towards a single case study involving the three methods.”

Compared to metal, next-generation engineering materials like PEEK offer consistent stiffness and strength and excellent heat and chemical resistance, hold structural performance and corrosion resistance at high temperatures, and offer great impact performance. These materials also have a much shorter processing cycle and require less labor, when compared to the typical six-step process of die-casting.

Engineering thermoplastic polymers have great potential as a metal part replacement, since they’re more lightweight and stronger than metals like aluminum and magnesium alloy. Thanks to their thinner profiles and high performance, these parts weigh less, and cost less as well. Metal replacement parts can be used in multiple demanding applications, including producing parts such as molds and dies for low-volume production, packaging solutions for multiple production stages, and jigs and fixtures.

There are multiple methods of low-volume part production, and the typical ways do cause some manufacturing challenges. CNC requires expensive machinery, which takes a long time to set up, and the operation is expensive as well. With casting, you’re limited in design, and parts require extensive post-processing; additionally, there is a high level of skill required to do the job. Metal 3D printers also cost a lot of money, and the materials are expensive as well. Plastics and polymers offer several advantages over metals, in both manufacturers’ production consideration and business aspects:

  • Better Functionality: high energy efficiency, low maintenance, dimensional stability, and reduced vibration and noise
  • Cost-Saving: less expensive material, lower overall costs
  • Design Advantage: simplified design requirements and more design freedom
  • Improved Mechanical Properties: lightweight, better chemical resistance, corrosion and UV resistant, better accuracy/design fidelity
  • Time-Saving: faster production, less (and quicker) post-processing

During the CNC machining process of the aluminum component, several part positionings were required, and the cost of each part was about €400. While mechanical manufacturing offered better surface finishing and a higher mechanical resistance than 3D printing, it cost more – an expensive tool is needed to make the hexagonal slots, and that cost would go up if the manufacturer had to purchase the tool. In addition, while an operator needs to replace the part during the mechanical manufacturing process, the 3D printing process doesn’t require this.

Clearly, Roboze 3D printers allow manufacturers to save on cost, labor, and time by replacing traditional metal parts with high-grade engineering plastics like PEEK, and Carbon PA, in real 25 micron tolerances. The company has helped manufacturing industries all over the world shift focus onto the benefits of part production with engineering polymers and the FFF 3D printing techniques it can provide. To learn more, download the white paper for free.

Discuss in the Roboze forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: Roboze]

 

 

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