In addition to manufacturing injection molding machines, Arburg is entering the additive manufacturing market. At a press conference on the day before the opening of the K Show, the company unveiled its "freeformer", an additive manufacturing...
October 16, 2013 by Canadian Plastics
In addition to manufacturing injection molding machines, Arburg is entering the additive manufacturing market. At a press conference on the day before the opening of the K Show, the company unveiled its “freeformer”, an additive manufacturing machine that enables fully functional parts to be produced in small batches mold-free and using standard types of resin.
The new freeformer produces parts layer by layer directly from 3D CAD files using droplets, resulting in components with strength approximately 70-80% of convention injection molded parts. Thanks to the liquid drops, the freeformer can be used to achieve good mechanical properties and a homogeneous layered structure. This results in fully functional components.
The freeformer uses standard resin –that is, the user does not require a special material, but can use his customary one. This is something quite new. The price difference versus using special additive manufacturing materials is a factor of about one hundred. So far, Arburg has run ABS, polycarbonate and elastomers in the freeformer, but any type of resin could be used. The only exception would be highly-filled materials. Colored material can be processed with no problems.
The nozzle of the freeformer remains stationary, while the component carrier moves along three or five axes. Undercuts can be produced without the need for support structures. This means new freedom in terms of part geometry and less material waste.
The freeformer can be configured both as a single-component and two-component machine. This opens up interesting opportunities, for example with hard/soft combinations.
Very little plastics expertise is needed to operate the freeformer. Its control system generates the necessary parameters from the 3D files. Material preparation is integrated into the machine. The plastic melt is prepared in a conventional plasticizing cylinder. From this point onwards, everything is different. In the discharge unit, a patented nozzle closure featuring piezoelectric technology generates plastic droplets from the melt by means of high frequency.
The machine operates without waste, dust, or emissions. It is compact and will fit through any doorway. It is plug-and-play and can be used in an office, design department, or on the plant floor.
All development activities have been carried out in-house. Arburg is both the inventor and manufacturer of the freeformer. Shipments from the company’s plant in Lossburg, Germany will begin next year. The company did not specify a price, but said it would be comparable to a high-end additive manufacturing machine. Sales will be through existing Arburg distributors. Arburg is represented in Canada by D Cube in Montreal and Dier International in Unionville, Ontario.