German family-owned company Arburg had over 50 years of experience in building injection molding machines before it entered the 3D printing market in 2014 with the release of its industrial Freeformer 3D printer. Now the company is planning to showcase its patented Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) technology at next month’s TCT Asia, which is the largest additive manufacturing exhibition in all of Asia.
APF is perfect for industrial 3D printing functional components, including medical implants, plastic components for consumer goods, and spare parts, and is also particularly well-suited for automated use by robotic systems in production lines. An important feature of APF technology is that it can use the same qualified standard granulates from injection molding processes, so you can produce individual parts and small batches from original materials more efficiently, as well as individualize mass-produced items.
“The market for additive manufacturing is growing rapidly and offers an interesting production technology solution to complement injection moulding. With our decades of know-how in plastics processing and our two freeformers in sizes 200-3X and 300-3X, we offer attractive solutions for both experts and newcomers to additive production using the APF process,” said Arburg’s Lukas Pawelczyk, who is responsible for global sales of the Freeformer 3D printer.
At the Arburg Prototyping Center (APC), located in the company’s Lossburg headquarters, multiple Freeformer 3D printers are always hard at work, manufacturing benchmark parts for potential customers; the same thing occurs at Arburg’s worldwide subsidiaries. The company makes sure that before any prospective client purchases one of its systems, it conducts preliminary trials in order to find out if the technology is well-suited for the desired application, material, and part.
Arburg’s 200-3X Freeformer includes two discharge units for efficient industrial 3D printing, while its new 300-3X Freeformer – nearly 50% larger than the 200 – can process three components at once, which means it can produce complex functional components, with support structures, in both hard and soft combinations; a unique capability in the 3D printing industry, to be sure.
3X refers to the X, Y, and Z axes, while the 300 in the name stands for the part carrier surface area in square centimeters. The 300-3X’s build chamber has space for bigger small-volume batches, and can also handle parts that are 50% wider – up to 234 x 134 x 230 mm.
At the show, Arburg will have two of its 200-3X Freeformers working to process flame-proof PC and FDA-approved medical TPE-S materials for electronics and medical applications, in addition to showcasing functional plastic components already manufactured from qualified original materials. The systems will be busy demonstrating how they can fabricate plastic parts with reproducible part quality.
According to Arburg, the TPE-S Medalist MD 12130H material, with Shore A hardness 32, can only be processed on its Freeformer 3D printer, and will be fabricating soft medical components live during TCT Asia. The additional 200-3X Freeformer will be used to process aerospace-approved PC material Lexan 940, with flame-proof properties, for electronics applications.
The Freeformer can also be connected to an MES like the Arburg ALS host computer system, which makes it possible to integrate the system directly into IT-networked production lines. Additionally, the system makes it possible to trace the quality parameters and process back to a specific part.
In addition to running its Freeformer systems live at the show, Arburg will also be exhibiting several functional parts made by the 3D printers to show off its capabilities. Some of the parts on display will include cable clips made from PP, bellows made out of elastic TPE, transparent test discs made from PMMA, and gripper fingers in hard/soft combinations. Two interactive stations will be set up at the company’s booth, and visitors will have the opportunity to test the durability and functionality of selected parts, like PP screw caps, skull implants made out of resorbable PLLA and a thin, elastic “spider membrane” made from medical TPE-S material.
Come see the Freeformers for yourself at Arburg’s stand D60 in hall W5 at TCT Asia, which will be held in Shanghai from February 21-23.
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