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Farsoon Launches Flame-Retardant Material and Post-Processing Solutions at Formnext

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Farsoon Europe and Tiger Coatings have successfully developed a specialized thermoset material, with flame-retardant properties, for polymer laser sintering using Farsoon’s HT252P industrial 3D printing system. The material, TIGITAL 3D-Set 371, is part of the PPP371 thermoset material solution family of materials from TIGER. It offers higher performance properties in addition to being ideally suited for functional applications where flame-retardant materials are critical.

The polymer is the result of the collaboration involving TIGER’s expertise in thermoset material engineering and surface finishing solutions and Farsoon’s open additive manufacturing platform for industrial applications.

TIGER had earlier collaborated with RICOH in November 2019 to develop new or improved thermoset materials for SLS 3D printing, processing and application-specific solutions. TIGER claims that its TIGITAL PPP 371 material family not only provides better thermal and mechanical properties, electronic isolation, dimensional stability, chemical resistance and more, but also can be printed at low temperatures to produce fully-functional parts in a range of colors. The company had also collaborated in December last year with Impossible Objects, provider of Composite-based Additive Manufacturing (CBAM) solutions, to advance thermoset-based 3D printing.

With Farsoon’s HT252P platform optimized for use with TIGITAL’s thermoset material 3D-Set 371, test parts can be produced in batches within six hours, and the ‘parameter-editor’ feature allows for further optimization and combinations for TIGER materials. The HT252P platform, for high-temperature SLS printing, was launched this summer by Farsoon as part of a set, with the ST252P (higher power) 3D printer system. It is yet another step in Farsoon’s growth into the industrial polymer and metal 3D printing sector, having already delivered orders as large as 50 metal 3D printers to aerospace specialist, Falcontech, and announced its large-format metal 3D printer for aerospace, oil and gas, and industrial applications, providing a build size of 0.62 x 0.62 x 1.1 meters, at TCT Asia this year.

“We want to develop our products on SLS printers that meet the highest industry standards. Farsoon’s HT252P meets the industry standard and enables us to save resources and time in the development of new products. The cooperation with Farsoon and Farsoon’s HT252P with open platform has accelerated our development of thermoset materials,” explained Dr. Baris Kaynak, Global Product Manager TIGITAL 3D-Set.

 “We have had many meetings with industrial partners requesting part properties for functional applications, often this includes fire resistance while keeping elastic properties high.” said Dr. Dirk Simon, Managing Director of Farsoon Europe GmbH. “We are so delighted to collaborate with TIGER in these directions. TIGER has tremendous formulation know-how for achieving brilliant solutions for serving functional applications.”

At Formnext this year, Farsoon has also introduced advanced, integrated post-processing equipment for its range of industrial polymer additive manufacturing systems. It has introduced two hardware units, the Polymer Powder Management System (PMS) and an External Cooling Station (EC) that, among other benefits, could provide powder refreshment rates as low as 20%.

The PMS and EC units were developed in collaboration with WeNext, a leading 3D printing and manufacturing services provider in China that also claims to be the largest online manufacturing service platform in the Asia-Pacific region. WeNext has a 25,000 sq. meter manufacturing hub with more than 100 SLA, SLS, MJF machines from various OEM’s, including Farsoon, as well as tens of CNC or injection molding machines. The service provider is a key customer and development partner for Farsoon, and the PMS and EC units were tested as part of a pilot program involving 11 Farsoon 403P and Flight-403P machines.

“A truly industrial workflow is the key to fully unlock the potential of large-scale additive manufacturing,” said Andy Zhang, co-founder and deputy general manager of WeNext. “As one of the early adopters of industrial plastic 3D printing technology in China, we are now faced with the increasing competition towards quality, lead-time and cost management amongst the service bureau industry. We are exploring all possibilities improving our machine up-time and production capabilities, to offer our customers high quality, repeatable parts at an economic cost. Now we are well on the way thanks to Farsoon.”

Previously in 2018, Farsoon had collaborated with UK-based Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) to add the latter’s automated post-processing technologies and solutions for Farsoon’s 3D printing platforms. Now, it seems Farsoon is introducing its own post-processing platforms and solutions with the PMS and EC products.

Farsoon production platforms at WeNext. Image courtesy of WeNext

The PMS is a polymer powder handling system that manages powder recycling & storage, new powder supply, high-speed mixing and sieving, in a streamlined automated workflow that saves on time and cost in processing AM parts. The company claims that using the PMS with their FS3300PA and FS3300PA-F materials could deliver powder refreshment rates as low as 20%. The system is fully-sealed, with no direct contact between operator and powder, and provides optimal, customizable controls for different processing requirements. In addition, the PMS can be paired with a unit, the Powder Delivery Unit (PDU) to transport the prepared powder directly to the 3D printers, where it is automatically transferred into the powder cartridge using an integrated pump in the PDU. Each PMS can be used to serve multiple Farsoon 3D printer systems and break-out stations.

Image Courtesy of Farsoon

The EC station has been developed specifically for Farsoon’s flagship 403P series of polymer 3D printers. The system uses inert gas nitrogen to cool parts, separate from the printer station, by adjusting the cooling time or amount of gas consumed.

“The comprehensive know-how of Farsoon in plastic additive manufacturing allows us to quickly adapt the latest technology innovation towards increased production volume, faster turn-over cycles, and lower cost per part,” Zhang said. “With the improved industrial workflow we are now receiving more projects, and our 11 Farsoon machines are running at almost full capacity. We are now planning on more Farsoon accessory equipment to further enhance our productivity.”

Image courtesy of Farsoon

These announcements have come towards the latter half of a pandemic-affected year where, unexpectedly, Farsoon has doubled its revenue growth in China for the first three quarters this year, with record orders from customers in aerospace, manufacturing and molding, in North Americas and Asia, as well as strong revenue growth in Europe over the same period last year. The company is planning an expansion of its production facilities in 2021, and is looking to complement its 3D printing production platforms with the launch of key materials, such as those from TIGER, and its own post-processing equipment.

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