3D Printing of Polymers on an Industrial Scale

Introduction of the P-500 at Formnext, Frankfurt, November 14, 2017 (Source: EOS)

At the Formnext fair in Frankfurt, EOS has introduced its P-500 system for additive manufacturing. The system addresses companies who want to mass-produce polymer parts on an industrial scale in combination with premium part quality.

The new system offers high efficiency for lowest cost-per-part, comes automation ready and can process polymer materials, which require operating temperatures of up to 300 °C. For the development of a first high performance polymer, EOS recently signed a joint development agreement with Arkema. With the P-500, the company promises smart and robust technology to foster a reliable, flexible and cost-effective production.

The new system promises maximum productivity for processing polymers at operating temperatures of up to 300 °C (Source: EOS). (Source: EOS)

The P-500 builds twice as quickly as the current fastest laser sintering machine (P-396) thanks to a dual-laser system fusing the powder, and a new recoater. The latter applies a new layer of powder to the building platform with high speed (600 mm/s) and maximum adjustability. Also, the material flow has been optimized. In contrast to previous systems, the P-500 preheats polymer material in advance, before it is applied on the build platform, reducing layer times. The system can also reuse all recycled powder for the next build job at higher fill rates, further increasing the efficiency of the system.

The steps before and after the actual build process are streamlined substantially: Pre-heating of the exchangeable frame and cool-down of the used exchangeable frame (containing the manufactured part) take place outside of the machine. Additionally, switching between the exchangeable frames is extremely short – within 15 minutes after a build job is completed, a new manufacturing process can be started. In combination with rarely needed cleaning (typically once per week) and maintenance (typically once per year), the total cycle times are improved significantly by up to 75 percent compared to the P-396, yielding in maximized machine uptime.

The high productivity comes with the known part quality. The EOSAME feature homogenizes the energy input of the laser, thus ensuring high quality and reproducible part properties and dimensional accuracy across the complete build volume – key for serial production.

The P-500 is an automation-ready manufacturing platform for laser sintering of plastic parts on an industrial scale (Source: EOS)

The P-500 comes alongside several solutions for monitoring and integration, offering industrial quality assurance through sensory, as well as camera based (optical and thermal), data evaluation. In conjunction with EOSCONNECT software, machine and production data can be gathered and made available in real-time.

The first high performance polymer available for the EOS P 500 will be PEKK, a material known for its high thermal stability, inherent flame retardancy and high chemical resistance, that makes it a lightweight alternative to metal. The goal is to release a high performance material at a competitive cost-per-part, enabling industrial applications not feasible until now. EOS recently signed a joint development agreement with Arkema, a leading global manufacturer in specialty chemicals and advanced materials. Meanwhile, EOS also cooperates with Evonik and BASF for developing future polymer materials.

The first company acquiring the new polymer system is Materialise. The company incorporates more than 27 years of 3D printing experience into a range of software solutions and 3D printing services, which together form the backbone of the 3D printing industry. (Source: EOS)

Link: Systems and equipment for plastic additive manufacturing, EOS GmbH – Electro Optical Systems, Krailling / Munich, Germany

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