AMS Spring 2023

Flashforge and Kewan: The Productivity Revolution with 3D Printers

6K SmarTech

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The combination of biochemical materials and 3D printers presents a significant proposition for the 3D printing industry. In 2021, 3D printer company Flashforge and material maker Kewan worked together to explore this scientific issue. Flashforge supports both consumer and professional 3D printers. With the environmentally friendly filament material UPM Formi from Kewan, the two tech companies developed solutions for the fields of architecture, furniture, and design.

Kewan actively organizes community activities, especially among teenagers, to spread 3D printing technology. To expand 3D printing research and development, Kewan supported the establishment of the biomass material science museum at Hangzhou Research Institution of Chemical Industry.

Free the filament from tradition

The core technical material of Kewan is UPM Formi, invented by Finland UPM. Kewan, Flashforge and other Chinese enterprises cooperated with Finland UPM to expand the downstream market. UPM Formi material is innovative due to the fact that it is mixed with a high draw-ratio microfibre and environment-friendly poly e lactobacillus. As the core material in the cellulose biomass material program, it is certified as bio-degradable by European REACH and PEFC. It is also nontoxic for human skin contact.

3D printing filament mixed with UPM Formi demonstrates the unique veining, texture, and feel of wood. As compared to filament without UPM Formi, the finished products have improved heating shrinkage and strong supportability. When printing near-70°C angles, support structures are not even necessary. Hence, projects printed with material containing UPI Formi is widely suited for furniture production. UPM Formi could take the shape of a home’s atmosphere or an art exhibition, making it become consumers’ first choice as a material.

Success in innovative furniture

The demand for 3D printing is growing with the number of clients increasing. From small accessories to furniture, incredible design possible with 3D printing is being applied more and more to ever-larger projects.

Currently, Kewan uses a Flashforge Guider 2S desktop 3D printer and commercial Creator 4 printer as their primary means of productivity. These two models cover customer demand as widely as possible: the Guider 2S runs better for small sized projects, while the Creator 4, with its large printing chamber, is the primary choice for large-scale printing.

Recently, in an exhibition called <Residence> in Shanghai, the designers entrusted the 3D printing production, including furniture, a table set, and lamps, to Kewan. To present the best visual effect and meet a limited lead time, Kewan relied on the Flashforge Guider 2S and Creator 4.

Items in the two pictures below were all printed with filament containing UPM Formi. Even though the material is the same, the translucency and feel are totally different. The researchers from Kewan explained that the less UPM Formi content, the better expression in detail, for small gifts and kits. The more UPM Formi, the stronger sense and feel of wood, something that highly appeals to designers and furniture manufacturers.

Various 3D printers create multiple productions

UPM Formi material is always unique, whether in an exhibition or a print laboratory. In the picture below, 50 Guider 2S 3D printers in Kewan’s production workshop operate simultaneously.

The Guider 2S helps decrease turnover time greatly. Kewan selected the Guider 2S to be the main force in its production line due to its outstanding stability for long-term 3D printing (30-40 hours continuously). The number of Guider 2S printers in Kewan’s production workshop has been steadily increasing since its partnership with Flashforge started. The lab boasts 50 units at present, but Kewan plans to add two extra units monthly.

Among various product classes, lampshades have become the most popular product for Kewan. Dr. Tian, senior engineer and the manager of the 3D printer product line, tells Flashforge that the lampshade below is widely praised in marketing and has even experienced excess demand. Produced using the UPM Formi elegant color series, the lampshade’s transparency and wood texture are ideal for daily illumination and decoration.

However, lampshade production in bulk cannot be maintained with the Guider 2S. Due to its large printing size, the Creator 4 was chosen by Kewan for production. The large print chamber measures 400*350*500mm, which easily fits the largest lampshade. Every single lampshade requires more than six hours of printing, possible with the Creator 4’s long-lasting printing capabilities. Kewan’s researchers can leave the worrying to the 3D printer and free them from supervising the process.

A small sitting bench, the most recent product developed by Kewan, is welcomed by families with children, communities, and the educational institutions. Its size can be scaled up and down to meet different requirements. All family members can have a specially customized seats for closer interaction. 3D printed with UPM Formi, the seat offers enhanced in friction and strength to guarantee safety, particularly for children.

Cloud Printing: From data to the product

2021 was the third year that Flashforge cooperated with Kewan. For Flashforge, 3D printer innovation is not the firm’s only focus. Flashforge gives priority to promoting and democratizing 3D printing technology. During the partnership, from machine production to project completion, Flashforge fully supported detailed Kewan with 3D printing guidelines and after-project training.

Digital transportation could lead the manufacturing revolution. Major sectors will develop local 3D printing departments in the future, with manufacturers able to transfer digital information across their network with 3D printers.

Small-scale products, such as household supplies, could even be printed in the home with domestic 3D printers (such as the Flashforge Adventurer Series). Retailers will be able to sell products digitally rather than physically. This even includes furniture and construction materials.

The most immediately relevant factor is digital storage. At present, due to limited space in showroom and warehouses, physical retail necessitates finite production. Once product information is stored in a cloud system, however, on-demand 3D production will be achieved. Flashforge offers multiple data transfer methods: USB and WIFI. With the 3D printer’s built-in camera, the operator can access a completely remote view of the whole production process.

Digital retail avoids such problems as running out of stock and eliminating problems of sale. Tomorrow, 3D printers will make every single product, split into individual components and parts.

Seek forward to opportunities

The cooperation between Kewan and Flashforge has been an exploration of integrating material science with 3D printing techniques. Simultaneously, it is a breakthrough attempt to disrupt the border between 3D printing and other industries. In 2022, Flashforge will devote itself to making further attempts to access more fields and generalizing 3D printing techniques to the greater population.

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