Jul 1, 2016 | By Alec

German industrial-strength 3D printing specialists Indmatec – the pioneers of the excellent PEEK filament – are becoming known for releasing 3D printers in quick succession. Just last year, the company released its excellent HPP 155 PEEK 3D printer, which was followed by a superior model with the same name in December 2015. It appears that the company is about to continue this trend, as they shared a sneak preview of a new Indmatec PEEK 3D printer at Additive Manufacturing Europe 2016 in Amsterdam, which is set to be released in January 2017 – with a follow-up planned for the summer of 2017.

Indmatec itself is a remarkable company, as it is one of the few 3D printer manufacturers that are more famous for their filament than for their 3D printers. But then PEEK filament is extremely impressive. Imagine a high-performance material that has an extremely high melting point (343°C), better wear and abrasion properties than titanium and steel, is repeatedly sterilize-able, chemically inert, and biocompatible (meaning it can be used in both harsh corrosive operating fields and in human implants), and, last but not least, is compatible with FDM 3D printers? Although it sounds almost too good to be true, that material exists, and is commonly known as PEEK.

Since its release, the strong, tough, and rigid PEEK material is already widely used in research and engineering circles. Its current applications include medical implants, electronic gears, aerospace parts, and automotive engineering, and its introduction into the market as an industrial material has revolutionized 3D printing possibilities for engineers across a wide range of sectors.

It is thus one most functional filaments around, though it’s not very easy to print. In fact, the first Indmatec HPP 155 3D printer was developed with the specific purpose of 3D printing that PEEK filament. Being a very demanding material, it requires a 3D printer with an all metal Hotend, a proper heating bed and an enclosed chamber, and all Indmatec 3D printers are exactly that. But PEEK can currently also be 3D printed on other FDM 3D printers when equipped with an all metal hot-end extruder capable of attaining temperatures up to 400°C.

The current PEEK 3D printer.

The forthcoming 3D printer, of which the prototype is visible above, should make it easier than ever before to 3D print that PEEK. But as you can see for yourself, it’s also much, much better looking than its predecessor. And the reason for that, as Robbie Hurst, Sales Manager at Indmatec told 3ders.org, can be found at the core of the company’s development. “The current model doesn’t look that aesthetically pleasing, and we know it. Basically, we started the company to introduce a filament, before we even had a machine. The European Space Agency approached us to print it, so we had to very quickly develop a Peek 3D printer. It was a slightly less attractive looking model, with the electronics on the outside. It was all about giving them something they could print with,” he revealed.

But with the success of PEEK, it was time for a change. “We set about trying to make it more attractive, aesthetically pleasing,” Hurst revealed. And in that respect, they have certainly succeeded.

But this more than visual upgrade, the Indmatec team is quick to add. For starters, the forthcoming 3D printer will be made from higher quality parts, and will feature an easily exchangeable nozzle as well - opening the 3D printer up to an even wider range of materials. “We are finding that you can just 3D print PEEK with this, and then switch to a lower temperature nozzle. For what happens is that other filaments run the risk of coming into contact with PEEK residue. No problem for more PEEK filament, but it can affect the quality of other filaments,” he explains. But this doesn’t mean you’ll need a new nozzle for every filament; simply one for PEEK, and one for the other engineering polymers.

The idea is, in short, to optimize the 3D printing process for industrial applications, where more than just PEEK is used. This will be supported by a new software package as well, for optimal performance. For now, however, the upcoming Indmatec 3D printer will have the same build space as its predecessor (155 x 155 x155 mm), but the German engineers are looking even further already. “Later that year we might introduce a similar PEEK 3D Printer with an even larger build space, of approximately a 300 mm cube,” Hurst added. That 3D printer is expected in the summer of 2017.

As Hurst explained, the potential of PEEK is currently only being limited by the build space of the 3D printer.” What we are finding at the moment is that the build space limits the geometries. The increase should accommodate a lot more engineering possibilities. Even smaller parts will be 3D printable in batches,” he argued. The new 3D printer will be priced in the range of €26,000 to €28,000– only a slight increase from the Indmatec’s current €20,000 3D printer. It will be released in January 2017.



Posted in 3D Printer



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Mr Taha wrote at 10/9/2018 4:52:24 PM:

what a price of medical peek material ?

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