3D Printing News Briefs, June 8, 2022: Clear Aligners, Standards, & More


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In 3D Printing News Briefs today, we’re discussing software first, as Arburg says its Freeformer software speeds up 3D printing by up to 55%. Then, Prodways Group announced that a major industrial project is accelerating with new orders for its 3D printers and materials. A new ASTM standard provides powder bed fusion design guidance for metal 3D printing. Finally, TU Delft researchers are working on the optimal design of 3D micro-architected implants.

Arburg’s Freeformer Software Speeds Up 3D Printing

Applying support materials in a grid structure allows complex geometries to be achieved with a short build time. This example shows an S-shaped pipe made from white PP with Armat 12 as the support material.

At the recent RAPID + TCT, Arburg demonstrated its updated software solution, which can speed up 3D printing time on its Freeformer by more than 50%. The software enables water-soluble Armat support materials for application in a lattice or grid structure optimized for its Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) technology. It speeds up print times for complex components, reduces the consumption of support materials, and negates manual finishing, since the supports can just be washed out. Arburg worked with established material partners and universities to develop its new water-soluble support material, which comes in two grades: Armat 11 for standard materials like ABS, and Armat 12 for polypropylene (PP).

Using its optimized software, the Freeformer lays down the support materials to build up a lightweight lattice or grid with tiny air pockets, and because it’s only about 20% solid, it can be formed much more quickly. Pair this with the water-soluble Armat support materials, and the printing time—along with material costs—goes way down. Arburg demonstrated how its Freeformer software speeds up 3D printing by fabricating an S-shaped pipe out of PP and Armat 12 at the RAPID show. The optimized grid structure required internal support, but the print time was reduced by about 50% in comparison to a fully solid structure.

Prodways Group Announces Orders for 3D Printers & Materials

At the end of 2021, Prodways Group landed a major industrial project from a worldwide leader in medical and dental products distribution, which generated an order for eight of its MovingLight 3D printers to mass produce clear aligners. Now, the company announced that its customer, which manufactures more than 1.5 million clear aligner parts a year, is accelerating the project, and has ordered six additional LD20 3D printers, scheduled to be delivered this month and next. This brings the customer’s installed global base of Prodways Group printers to 14.

The six additional 3D printers aren’t the only thing the client ordered, however: Prodways Group also received large orders of its high-performance PLASTCure Absolute Aligner liquid resin from this customer as well. The company had already delivered eight tons of this material to the client since the beginning of 2022, and will now provide it with an additional ten tons of resin for 3D printing clear aligners. With 14 MovingLight LD20 3D printers, the customer could consume nearly 20 tons of resin a year, and as the project continues to develop, even more 3D printer and resin orders could be coming for Prodways Group.

New ASTM Standard for Metal PBF Design

ASTM International recently announced a new standard, which will offer advice to designers and engineers who are thinking about using powder bed fusion (PBF) technology to 3D print metal parts. The standard, which will soon be published as F3530, was developed by ASTM’s F42 Committee on Additive Manufacturing. The new guidance will offer an overview of common post-processing operations for PBF 3D printing, difficulties in completing these operations, and the best ways to address the challenges. According to ASTM International member Farhan Khan, managers and other decision-makers considering the use of PBF 3D printing will also benefit from new standard F3530.

“In spite of the rapidly growing interest from the industry in laser powder-bed fusion for metals (PBF-LB), there is a lack of guidance on how and why post-processing is carried out leading to inefficient designs, expensive post-processing, high non-conformity, and scrap rates. This standard provides specific guidance on how to design a component to ensure it can be effectively post-processed for operations such as powder removal, thermal post-processing, build plate removal, support removal, machining, and surface finishing,” Khan said.

Optimizing Design of 3D Micro-Architected Implants

Figure 10. The design and performance of (a) solid, (b) uniform lattice, (c) optimized heterogeneous lattice titanium implants in terms of local bone remodelling and the Hoffman interface stress risk indices.

A trio of researchers from TU Delft recently published a paper on their work to optimize the design of 3D micro-architected implants, which resulted in computational methods for designing orthopaedic hip implant stems to make them last longer. These types of devices are often made out of solid materials, and can majorly change load transmission to surrounding bone tissue, which can lead to issues such as bone resorption and interface instability. The TU Delft team developed a parametric micro-architecture with good mechanical properties and functional attributes, and their computational method was used to synthesize 3D printed patient-specific implants with what they called “heterogeneous micro-architecture.” These implants consider functional constraints, in addition to lowering the risk of “load-induced interface fracture and peri-prosthetic bone remodelling.”

“The procedure is applied to the design of 3D titanium hip implants with prescribed conventional geometries and compared, in silico, to both a conventional solid implant and a homogeneous low-stiffness lattice design. The optimized implant results in a performance improvement of 64.0% in terms of bone remodelling, and 13.2% in terms of interface fracture risk, compared to a conventional solid implant design,” the abstract states.

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