AM Investment Strategies
AMS Spring 2023

Arburg Introduces PEEK 3D Printing and In-Process Monitoring at RAPID + TCT

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RAPD+TCT 2022 is just around the corner and among the attendees is Arburg is ready to show off advances made to its Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) technology. At the event, the German leader in injection molding and 3D printing technology, will be displaying a standard Freeformer 300-3X alongside a specialty version of the system capable of processing high-temperature materials. Additionally, the company will be presenting its ProcessLog app, for tracking and documenting 3D printing jobs in detail.

The Advantages of APF

APF is distinguished using a piezoelectric screw to deposit individual droplets of polymer material at rates of up to 200 droplets per second with diameters of 0.2 and 0.4mm. Because commercially accessible pellets are employed, the approach is amenable to a far broader range of materials that manufacturers are likely already familiar with and might be used for mass manufacturing. Because filaments are much more expensive than injection molding pellets, this dramatically cuts part costs.

At RAPID + TCT in Detroit, two Freeformer 300-3X machines will additively manufacture sophisticated functional parts. Image courtesy of Arburg.

Arburg has begun expanding both its presence in additive manufacturing (AM) and in North America. With the acquisition of German RepRap, it gained a series of industrial fused filament fabrication machines, as well as silicone deposition technology. Through a partnership with Würth Additive, it began distributing its products in North America.

High-Temperature 3D Printing

The firm’s attendance at North America’s largest AM trade show furthers Arburg’s marketing efforts in the region. In particular, the company will be showcasing the ability of the Freeformer 300-3X to reach 200° Celsius, allowing it to process high temperature materials, such as ULTEM and PEEK. ULTEM 9085, for instance, is a permanently flame-retardant, low-smoke material approved for aerospace applications. The Freeformer 300-3X can also 3D print biocompatible, resorbable, sterilizable and FDA-approved original materials.

A high-temperature Freeformer 300-3X can process PEE, into such items as individualized skull implants, including support material. Image courtesy of Arburg.

The system features optimized temperature management, including cooling necessary for proper printing. This is particularly important for the axis drives, ensuring the precise positioning of the print along the x, y and z axes. Altogether, the Freeformer is capable of printing parts that achieve 95 percent strength in the X- and Y-axes.

Moreover, the printer can be made suitable for clean room applications with only some minor tweaks. This makes it possible to 3D print implantable and biocompatible parts. At RAPID + TCT, the Freeformer will showcase these possibilities by processing a medically approved PEEK granulate.

Process Monitoring

Additionally, Arburg will present its ProcessLog app, which captures process and build job data and displays it in a clear, visual manner. This information is documented and traced on a per-part basis. The data can be viewed over the course of an entire build, including granular information related to material pressure, screw position, droplet frequency and discharge rate. By reliably documenting the printing process and production of each part, manufacturers can ensure traceability for products in safety-relevant applications. Additionally, multiple Freeformer machines can be networked together using an Industrial Internet of Things tool, such as the “arburgXworld” customer portal.

All Freeformers can be networked with the “arburgXworld” customer portal. The specially developed “ProcessLog” app allows a wide range of process and build job data for APF parts to be displayed in clear graphical form, documented, and traced on a part-specific basis. Image courtesy of Arburg.

Arburg at RAPID + TCT

Outside of high-temperature materials and the ProcessLog app, Arburg will demonstrate flexible materials, polypropylene parts, and hard and soft combinations at RAPID + TCT. Thanks to post-processing partner OTEC, the company will also showcase 3D printed parts with surface quality that match those made with injection molding through the use of vibratory finishing and barrel tumbling.

Arburg suggests that the North American market will benefit from access to local and remote service, process monitoring, as well support for customer orders and processing customer-specific materials. As the German company is already well-established in the industrial manufacturing space, it suggests that it applies its expertise across the entire value chain, in turn, ensuring industrial quality in AM from the start. To learn more, visit the Arburg website or see APF in person at Booth #2108 at RAPID + TCT.

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