In 2014, Youngstown, Ohio company Strangpresse was formed to develop and commercialize lightweight, fully controllable thermoplastic extruders for 3D printing. This week, the company was granted an exclusive license for Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s extruder technology, which can rapidly 3D print hundreds of pounds of polymer material. The extruders include a nozzle that is capable of 3D printing large parts, such as tooling for prototyping and aerospace and automotive applications, with fine resolution.
“Development of the extruder technology increases high resolution deposition rates by three orders of magnitude, going from about four cubic inches per hour up to 2,400 cubic inches per hour,” said Bill Peter, Director of the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. “This has opened up the potential applications of additive processes.”
The extruders can also greatly improve quality and decrease roughness that can occur where the material starts and stops during the 3D printing process.
“High-quality seams and fine resolution help minimize the need for post processing,” said Brian Post, ORNL Co-Inventor and Project Leader. “This can result in parts being usable almost directly off the printer.”
Strangpresse supplies extruders to industry leaders for additive manufacturing research and development. In 2015, it was the first company to license ORNL’s suite of patents associated with large-scale additive manufacturing. Although Strangpresse is a young company, its leadership team has more than 70 years of combined experience in the thermoplastic extrusion industry, and it has manufactured extruders for several original equipment manufacturers in the big-area and medium-area additive manufacturing markets, both domestically and internationally.
ORNL has done a great deal of work with large-scale additive manufacturing, using its own technology as well as outside-developed equipment such as the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine. Just recently, it was responsible for developing the military’s first 3D printed submarine hull using the BAAM, and its technology is having an impact on the aerospace, automotive, defense and other industries that rely on large-scale manufacturing.
“Obtaining an exclusive technology license from ORNL helps us secure a more competitive position for Strangpresse as we grow our company,” said Chuck George, CEO of Strangpresse.
It’s not all focused strictly on large-scale additive manufacturing, though – ORNL is also responsible for the development of novel materials and processes, and works closely with several partners to advance additive manufacturing in a wide variety of areas.
“Our researchers are delivering innovative breakthroughs in additive manufacturing to improve material properties and process technologies,” said Moe Khaleel, Associate Lab Director for Energy and Environmental Sciences at ORNL. “We value our industrial partners like Strangpresse to ensure we’re accelerating the path for commercialization to increase American competitiveness.”
Strangpresse, an affiliate of Hapco Inc., is also partnered with Rockwell Automation to help develop control and monitoring equipment for its extrusion equipment. Its clients include Lockheed Martin and Baylor University, and its founders hold several of their own patents related to thermoplastic processing, some of which the company has licensed for use in the additive manufacturing industry. Strangpresse’s customers come from the automotive, aerospace and marine industries, and its products are used in the rapid prototyping and manufacture of finished structures, tooling, molds and dies.
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