Mar.25, 2014

The internals of the HSS system

Today's Additive Manufacturing processes are generally developed and used for the creation of prototypes or very small series production runs. University of Sheffield spin-out FaraPack Polymers and researchers at the Universities of Loughborough have created a new 3D printer that is suitable for higher volume production and capable of making finger-sized parts at less than one second per part.

Named FACTUM (latin: "to make"), the new machine used a High Speed Sintering (HSS) technology, a new Additive Manufacturing (AM) process invented at and patented by Loughborough University.

Project leader Neil Hopkinson, Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of The University of Sheffield, was on the team that invented HSS at Loughborough University.

"The HSS machine we've been using in this project to make parts is owned by Loughborough and loaned to Sheffield, as the research helps Loughborough to licence the technology, while Sheffield secures funds to develop new technology," he explained.

High Speed Sintering was invented with the intention to replace existing technologies and to provide manufacturing capabilities that have been unavailable to date. The process utilises inkjet print heads from inkjet technology leader Xaar and infra-red heating technology (instead of laser) to manufacture parts layer by layer from polymer powder materials.

Economic analyses indicate that HSS process could reduce the time and costs of making parts when compared with current RM processes. An example of HSS's cost effective production has been proven through leading research at Loughborough University in association with Burton Snowboards. The research found a 75% cost reduction when manufacturing the miniature snowboards on HSS rather than Laser Sintering.

The interesting part is, the time the heat is applied to melt the powder is longer than when employing lasers. "The sweeping lamp employed in HSS typically applies heat to adjacent particles for a period 10,000 times longer than a laser, so HSS gently heats materials that can minimise damage and improve sintering quality." said Hopkinson.

Another potential is the freedom of choice for materials. FACTUM engineers said they have discovered materials that are difficult or impossible to laser sinter, but can reliably high-speed sintered.

The system has already been successfully demonstrated with leading organisations in the construction, automotive and sporting goods sectors, such as industrial giants Unilever and BAE Systems.

FACTUM 3D printer has been awarded £1.5 million in funding from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and industry partners, according to tct.

High Speed Sintering Manufacturing process:

The first section of the build cycle starts with the roller assembly traversing from left to right depositing a new layer of powder onto the part bed.

 

The roller assembly then travels back in the opposite direction and in this swathe, the print heads jet the first of the monochromatic bitmap images onto the part bed using a Radiation Absorbent Material (RAM). Simultaneously the Infra-Red (IR) lamp exposes the entire part bed to IR energy.

 

Within this part of the cycle the RAM absorbs sufficient thermal energy from the tailored IR lamp to cause underlying polymer particles to melt and fuse together, creating a 2D layer.

 

Conversely, although subject to the same amount of thermal energy, the unprinted regions within the part bed do not absorb sufficient energy to fuse together and consequently, remain as a powder and support the geometries being manufactured.

 

The entire cycle is then repeated, printing and sintering new layers together and to the layers below until all geometries have been manufactured. The machine is then left to cool down, parts are removed from the cake and cleaned.

 

Posted in 3D Printers

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Jet wrote at 6/13/2014 9:02:03 PM:

1 second per part, of baby sized finger's filling the bed with lowest possible z axis height orientation.

Jay Zet wrote at 3/26/2014 11:03:50 PM:

Is it me or they have anounced this process at least 4 times in the past 10 years? And still without showing an actual, real, final part. Come on boys bring it on...

Alvin stroyny wrote at 3/26/2014 9:06:33 PM:

I think the press has it wrong, it must be 1 second per layer, not the entire finished part unless this is an average for many parts at once that are not very thick. At .01 layer thickness this is 100 passes per second for aan inch thick part, not physically possible.

Ben wrote at 3/26/2014 6:36:19 PM:

neat process, but as Dean says it does sound like all the parts will be black. This process sounds very replicable and possibly quite cheap.

Dean wrote at 3/26/2014 3:30:00 AM:

Any shape part, so long as it is black...



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