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New at EuroMold

December 11, 2011

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,event,review — Terry Wohlers @ 07:49

The recent EuroMold 2011 event in Frankfurt, Germany was the most impressive yet. The scale and quality of the exhibits have increased notably. It was clear that the exhibiting organizations invested a great deal into their displays and some view the event as the most important worldwide. Also, many companies used it to introduce new products. The following is a summary of them.

Fruth Innovative Technologien (FIT) introduced a RepRap-like derivative called Fabbster. The company showed a configuration of 19 of them in a single “system” consisting of five machines across and four machines vertically. Controls and a display were mounted in the 20th cell. In theory, all 19 machines could be running and providing an interesting amount of capacity and flexibility, which was the primary purpose of the demonstration.

A seven-person startup company named Asiga, based in Southern California, introduced its small Pico printer. The $7,000 system uses DLP and LED technology to solidify thin layers of photopolymer. The maximum build volume is 30 x 40 x 100 mm (1.2 x 1.6 x 3.9 inches). Example parts on display were models and patterns for dental crowns and jewelry and they looked very good. Acrylate resin for the machine is $700 per kilogram, which is expensive.

Blueprinter is a Danish startup that introduced a €9,995 3D printer based on a new technology called Selective Heat Sintering. The machine, which was not on display, uses a thermal print head as opposed to a laser to heat and sinter thermoplastic powder. The material is €49 per kilogram. The parts looked okay and had the feel and stiffness of ceramic. Company management said a more flexible material would be introduced next year.

The ProJet 1000 was shown by 3D Systems. It is based on the company’s film transfer imaging technology, which was originally developed for the V-Flash product. The new $10,900 machine uses DLP technology to image and solidify each layer. Maximum build size is 171 x 203 x 178 mm (6.75 x 8 x 7 inches) and vertical build speed is 12.7 mm (0.5 inch) per hour in standard mode.

The VX1000 is a new, large machine from Voxeljet. The system’s build volume is 1,060 x 600 x 500 mm (41.7 x 23.6 x 19.7 inches), with print resolution of up to 600 dpi using 10,624 nozzles. Parts from the machine are impressive.

The SLM 280 HL is an entirely new platform from SLM Solutions GmbH. It features 1.4 kilowatts of power using 400 watt and 1,000 watt fiber lasers that work concurrently. The machine is capable of building parts in stainless steel, tool steel, cobalt-chrome, super alloys, aluminum, and titanium. The build chamber is 280 x 280 x 350 mm (11 x 11 x 13.8 inches).

For many years, the idea of combining additive manufacturing and machining has been discussed. At EuroMold, Matsuura of Japan demonstrated its metal powder AM system that includes CNC machining. The Lumex Avance-25 machine produces good surfaces and deep slots and features that would otherwise require EDM. According to the company, the system can reduce design and machining time by 62%. The machine was running on the show floor.

Digital Forming is a sister company to UK-based Within Technologies. The company has introduced a development platform for creating a web interface for consumer co-design. As an example, a designer can use the system to offer a lighting design that a consumer could personalize using slider bars. Sliding one bar might change a specific dimension of the product, while sliding another might twist the design. The environment shows the possible future of co-design where a professional designer creates a product that someone else modifies.

EuroMold 2011 was outstanding. Exhibiting companies showed the best of their best. The many new products that were introduced showed impressive advances in additive manufacturing and 3D printing.