Binder-jetting, a 3D-printing technique that typically forms solid parts at room temperature from metal, sand and ceramic granules, has been used successfully for several years as a mold-making tool, particularly in the production of sand-cast molds and cores. Creavis, the strategic innovation unit of specialty chemicals company Evonik (Essen, Germany), has entered into a partnership with Voxeljet AG (Friedberg, Germany) to develop material systems using this technology for the serial production of finished plastic parts.
Binder-jetting involves additively depositing a binding agent onto a powder bed. Thanks to the use of large-scale, rapid inkjet technology and room-temperature printing, this method is currently the most productive and most scalable method for 3D printing, according to Evonik. The material systems available thus far, however, have not enabled the production of finished industrial parts with the appropriate mechanical properties. The collaboration with Voxeljet intends to remedy this.
“Voxeljet is one of the leading manufacturers of large-scale, high-speed printers for mold making,” said Prof. Stefan Buchholz, Executive Director of Evonik Creavis GmbH. “We have made it our goal to work with Voxeljet to develop new powder-binder systems that will, for the first time, enable this method to be used to manufacture polymer parts for industrial use.”
Evonik points to its many years of experience with polymer powders for various 3D-printing technologies and finely tuned binders as the foundation upon which it will build to successfully develop these systems.
“In Evonik we have found an outstanding collaboration partner that will provide us with tailored material systems for our efficient printing technology. With this research collaboration, we aim to fulfill our aspirations of entering into the safe and robust additive manufacturing of stable polymer final parts in series production,” said Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO of Voxeljet.
Evonik will discuss its research into the next generation of binder-jetting technology at the Formnext trade show in Frankfurt from Nov. 19 to 22. It is exhibiting on stand C 71 in hall 12.1.
Meanwhile, Voxeljet is inviting Formnext attendees to drop by its stand, E 59 in hall 12.1, for the first public viewing its VX1000 HSS (high-speed sintering) prototype. A follow up to the VX 200 HSS introduced two years ago, which was the company’s first foray into the polymer sintering space, the new system is compatible with Voxeljet’s complete portfolio of polymers and, said the company, advances the potential of mass printing of plastic parts.
The HSS process enables the control of specific component properties via the degree of blackening of the printed surface, said Voxeljet. “So-called grayscale printing is a technology update, in which the ink input within a layer is varied in levels,” said Voxeljet in a press release. Each of those levels can be matched with the target properties of the polymer components, such as the degree of hardness. Components can be customized, independent of geometry and specific stresses, allowing discrete hard and soft properties in products such as shoe soles. Voxeljet has applied for a patent for this technology.
The company also announced in the preshow release that its materials portfolio now includes polypropylene and thermoplastic urethanes and other elastomers from various manufacturers.