For several years, German RepRap has been working on its Liquid Additive Manufacturing (LAM) technology, a new technique that allows for the 3D printing of liquid or high viscosity material such as Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR). At last year’s formnext conference, the company presented its first prototypes, but at this year’s formnext, it’s going to have a lot more to show off – namely the L280, the first production-ready LAM 3D printer. LAM is now ready for use in the 3D printing industry.
LAM works with material that is in liquid form and then vulcanized to its final form under heat exposure. Unlike FFF 3D printing, the layers truly bond together, rather than just being welded together. Parts produced with the technology have the same properties as injection molded parts, according to German RepRap.
The parts actually have better strength than those produced with injection molding, because the application direction and thus the vulcanization can be influenced at the macro molecular level. The new print head technology allows for precise metering and mixing ratios; a special blender head ensures optimal connection of both supplied components. The mixing ratio is precisely adjustable and allows for intervention at the layer level.
The L280 itself offers a build area of 280 x 280 x 200 mm and a layer thickness between 0.22 and 0.9 mm. The 3D printer can use nozzles of 0.23, 0.4 and 0.8 mm, enabling the printing of highly accurate, long-lasting objects as well as less detailed but much more quickly printed components. A heated print bed increases the adhesion of the printed parts and ensures optimal cross-linking, and a high-temperature halogen lamp is used selectively to accelerate cross-linking. This both reduces print time and increases print quality.
The EVOLV3D LC 3335 Liquid Silicone Rubber material was developed by Dow and can be supplied either in cartridge or pail form. The printer has a touch display and can print either standalone or connected to a network. A special safety technology is included that monitors the curing process and immediately stops the process in case of irregularities. A light system provides information about the printing status.
The L280 was designed for reliable continuous operation and has shown its ability to perform in extensive tests and pilot applications. For commercial use of the printer, a maintenance contract and professional onsite service is available from trained technicians. This includes software and hardware training in addition to maintenance and repair of the 3D printer.
German RepRap has been in the process of developing the Liquid Additive Manufacturing technology for quite some time, so it will be exciting to see it finally ready for use in the industry. Attendees at formnext can visit the company at Booth D40, Hall 3.1 to see demos of the new machine as well as objects produced with the technology. Formnext will be taking place in Frankfurt, Germany from November 13th to 16th.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Images: German RepRap]
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