Leading the way in 3D printing

Materials World magazine
,
5 May 2015

Natalie Daniels finds out how companies are revolutionising the 3D printing industry. 

With so much hype surrounding 3D printing, it’s no wonder industries are investing in this new manufacturing technology. Cooksongold, based in the UK, has introduced the Precious M 080 additive manufacturing machine. The system produces ready-to-finish metal parts direct from 3D computer-aided design data. It is integrated with a 100W Yb-fibre laser and a range of precious metal powder alloys that have optimised parameter settings. The system processes precious metals, as well as non-precious alloys, such as titanium. It scans at speeds of up to 7m/s and can achieve a focus diameter of less than 30μm. The model facilitates powder handling and the removal of manufactured components.

3D printing doesn’t just have to be on an industrial scale, it can also be achieved from the comfort of a desk. US firm Cartesian Co has introduced the Argentum, a 3D desktop printer for electronics. The device can print circuit boards on a range of materials, such as paper and fabric, and is resistant to corrosion and flexure. The machine uses thermal inkjets and comes with three cartridges filled with silver, ascorbic and ascorbic+ conductive inks. The printer is available as a kit or pre-assembled. 

Also unveiling a new machine is UK-based Renishaw, with its EVO project – an industrial-scale additive manufacturing system. It features a 500W laser, a capacity filtration system and automated power handling. The technology is designed with a 19-inch human machine interface and comes fitted with an intelligent workflow system, to reduce operator interaction. There is an additional interchangeable hopper system, which allows various materials to be used on the same machine.

Meanwhile, global company Verbatim has produced a range of plastic filaments for 3D printers. The filament material comes in two types – polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). The PLA is available in 1.75mm and 3mm diameter filaments, and the ABS material comes as a 1.75mm diameter filament. Both are designed in a range of colours as 1kg spools. The filament has been enhanced for tight tolerances to ensure a consistent feed. The products are suited to a wide range of 3D printers. 

Stratasys, a partner of 3D printing in the UK, has integrated the Connex3 printer into its Object Connex range, to provide colour to 3D printing designs. The printer produces materials in a selection of colours and features a 16-micron print layer system. The workstation is compatible with Windows 7 or Windows 8. Supporting material includes the SUP705 non-toxic gel-like photopolymer.

With so much progress and development being made in the field of 3D printing, more companies are sure to step forward into this manufacturing revolution. 

Next month's Spotlight is on quality