Formnext 2018: LaserProFusion and other 3D Printing Innovations
Formnext is an annual event dedicated to ground breaking research and development in the area of Additive Manufacturing. At Formnext 2018, a four day event held in Franfurt, over 65 participants from across the Globe presented some very interesting and cutting edge technologies.
- German metal printing pioneer, EOS presented its latest innovation – the LaserProFusion. The solution uses over 1 million laser diodes that results in speeds that have never been achieved earlier. The company claims that its solution is targeted for mass production, something that technologists across the world have been trying to achieve with additive Manufacturing. It claims to market its product in the year 2021.
- HP announced its entry in metal printing systems in the month of September in 2018. At Formnext 2018, it displayed its machine, along with some metal parts developed by the printer. As per updates from the company, the printer will be available in the mass market by year 2020.
- Stratasys, the 3D printing pioneer ventured into metal printing last year. At Formnext, the company shared its platform – Layered Powder metallurgy. The 3-step process starts with metal powder being dispensed and spread to form a layer. The metal powder layer then undergoes a compaction process. This is done to achieve high-density and controllable shrinkage. Later, a thermal ink is embossed on the thin layer of powder, defining a part’s geometry. The newly developed system aims to address the demands of production for pilot-series parts and small-batch manufacturing. As a result of the compaction the technology presents a potential to manufacture light weight complex profiles.
- Intamsys, the Chinese 3D printer manufacturer launched its latest offering, the Funmat pro 410. The company claims that the redesigned printer is capable of providing better adhesion between layers, thereby resulting in stronger parts.
- Colussus , a start-up from Belgium presented its pellet based 3D printer (enclosed in a container). The attractive features of its product include faster printing (1.5kg per hour) and higher print volume -3*1.5 meters. The company sources add that the printer is placed in a container for easy transportation.
- EnvisionTec , that markets digital light based printers, introduced a new line of printers – the P4K printers. These printers use 4K projectors. Developers claim that the printer uses concepts of artificial intelligence for pixel tuning to deliver high surface smoothness.
- Advancements in the stereolithography (SLA- developed by 3D Systems) at Formnext, include the SLA machines presented by Nexa3D. The printers are claimed to be six times faster than other available SLA machines. Recent announcements by the company include the appointment of Avi Reichental as its CEO. (Avi Reichental is the former CEO of 3D Systems and Chairman of Nano Dimension).
- French manufacturer Pollen AM, showcased its metal printing system – PAM series M. It is a pellet based 3D printer that works on Metal Injection Molding (MIM) technology. The printer is compatible with MIM metal feedstock pellets. It has 4 extruders that allow printing with a range of materials so as to achieve a combination of various desired properties. It has a build volume of 300mm DIA x 300mm height and layer resolution of 40µm.
- Large scale 3D Printer manufacturer BigRep launched two new printers – BigRep Pro and the BigRep Edge, which work on Metering Extruder Technology. The Bigrep Pro incorporates an enclosed build chamber and temperature-controlled filament chambers for big prints. BigRep Edge uses thermoplastics for functional prototypes and tools development.
Kodak, the famous yesteryear’s camera company has developed its FFF based machine- Kodak Potrait. It is a standard FDM printer that prints with commercialised materials such as PLA, ABS, Nylon etc.
Formnext included a plethora of companies presenting their technologies/printers/ materials etc. It included some industry incumbents as well as players from other industries venturing in the area of 3D printing. One takeaway from the event is that companies are increasingly focussing on one key area – Developing the technology to overcome hurdles and ensure adoption of metal printing for mass manufacturing.
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Image courtesy Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH / Mathias Kutt