Oct 5, 2017 | By Tess

German 3D printer manufacturer voxeljet AG has announced the imminent release of a new PMMA 3D printing process called PolyPor C2 (or PPC²). The new technique, which reportedly enables the production of high-quality investment casting parts, will officially be unveiled on October 15, at the 64th Technical Conference and Equipment Expo in Covington, Kentucky.

Impeller part cast from a PPB 3D printed investment pattern (left) and one cast from a PPC2 printed pattern (right)

It has been a busy season for voxeljet, as the Friedberg-based company recently announced its first High Speed Sintering (HSS) thermoplastic 3D printing system, which marked a significant departure from its usual machines which are geared towards tooling and investment casting production.

As the announcement of its new PPC² technology suggests, however, voxeljet has not forgotten its roots and is continuing to advance and update its investment casting pattern technology.

According to voxeljet, its new PPC² 3D printing process is an updated and improved version of its existing PolyPor PMMA additive binder technology. In simple terms, the aforementioned process works by depositing a layer of acrylic plastic particulate (the PMMA, or polymethyl methacrylate) and bonding it to the following layer using a PolyPor binder material.

The modified PPC² process, to be used mainly for producing investment casting patterns, has demonstrated a higher resolution that voxeljet’s earlier technology, as well as an overall smoother surface quality and clearer edges on the 3D printed part.

3D printed impeller made using PPC2

How has voxeljet achieved this? By using a finer PMMA particulate material (of just 37 μm). As the company explains, the finer particulate material has enabled its 3D printer to deposit layers at a much finer layer thickness of only 100 μm.

Of course, it’s not quite that simple, as the company also relies on high definition print heads (with a resolution of 600 dpi) to achieve the detailed, high precision results of its new PolyPor C2 process. Additionally, the updated 3D printing technique produces “almost no residual ash.”

All of these characteristics make the process more than suitable for additively manufacturing investment casting patterns.

The new PPC² technology will first be offered with voxeljet’s compact VX200 3D printer, which is compatible with both plastic and sand particulates.

Nest of turbines for optimized 3D printing

“It is an affordable entry into 3D printing for investment casting foundries with an efficient part production for commercial castings such as turbine impellers and turbine blades,” explained Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO of voxeljet. “Thanks to our binder jetting technology, no additional support structures are needed. By means of this, precious build space can be used most efficiently by building parts stacked on top of each other.”

Tobias Gruen, product manager at voxeljet, also added that the new PPC² process would improve the company’s 3D printing technology on the whole, allowing for a longer life for its industrial print heads, as well as better printing consistency in terms of quality.

“Moreover, the unbound PMMA powder can be reused and recycled for forthcoming printing jobs, which ensures efficient material usage,” Gruen commented.

voxeljet will be unveiling its novel PPC² 3D printing process at ICI 2017, an industry casting event hosted by the Investment Casting Institute (ICI) in Kentucky later this month. If you won’t be attending the investment casting event, voxeljet is also making benchmark parts made using PPC² available through its German and American headquarters.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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