Formnext 2022 Additive Manufacturing: machines and systems for metal, plastic and ceramic 3D printed components

Source: AIM3D

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At Formnext 2022, AIM3D will be providing information on two major highlights. On the one hand, the new Voxelfill process for sustainably improving the strength properties of a layer-based 3D component and, on the other hand, the market launch of the Exam 510.

Market launch of the 3D CEM ExAM 510 system from AIM3D: higher build rates and improved component quality
Market launch of the 3D CEM ExAM 510 system from AIM3D: higher build rates and improved component quality
(Source: AIM3D)

Every 3D printing process competes with classic manufacturing strategies such as casting or milling in terms of mechanical properties, time factors and cost-effectiveness. It is also in competition with alternative 3D printing technologies. The technological challenge: at present, layer-based 3D build processes of polymers often exhibit inhomogeneous structural properties. With the patent-pending Voxelfill process, AIM3D is breaking new ground that overcomes inhomogeneous strength issues by achieving defined, selective densities in the component.

With the Voxelfill approach, components are no longer created exclusively in layers (i.e. 2.5D), but utilise cross-layer filling by using so-called voxels as volume areas. To do this, , the component contour is first created as usual as the basic structure using one or more webs of the extruded material. A lattice pattern is created inside the component, which defines the boundaries of the volume elements to be filled, similar to cavities. This structure of the voxels to be filled resembles the honeycomb in a beehive.

The Voxelfill strategy now comprises two process stages:

1. Generation of a lattice structure: the CEM system repeats this structure up to a defined height of the volume elements, then at this point the previously created cavities (voxels) are filled by injecting thermoplastic material with the extruder.

2. Filling phase of the voxels: now the second, even more important component of this 3D printing strategy is deployed: when the volume areas are filled, this does not include filling all voxels in one plane. This would again result in a Z direction weakness directly in the “seam” plane. By shifting the volume elements halfway up the voxel, a kind of “brick-like bond” is created in the component, resulting in the yield line being offset. This results in an enormous increase in strength and also improves the elasticity of the components in the Z direction. In addition, the introduced volume elements greatly reduce the printing time for fully filled components and thus significantly increases the cost-effectiveness of the CEM process.


Formnext 2022 will also mark the launch of AIM3D's new Exam 510 granulate printer. The Rostock-based company has developed this large CEM system up to the beta phase in a period of just 1.5 years. Beta phase users include ZF Friedrichshafen, Schaeffler and the Clausthal University of Technology. The new Exam 510 offers a greater build area, higher precision and accelerated build speeds.

The Exam 510 printer is a multi-material printer for additive manufacturing that can consecutively print up to three materials. The increased build area of 510 x 510 x 400 mm3 now opens up a multitude of applications. The build area can be heated up to 200 °C in order to reduce the stresses in the component and to process high-performance materials. The significantly increased build rate or print speed depends of course on the material used and can be as high as 250 cm3/h (when using a 0.4 mm nozzle). This extruder class enables extrusion rates that are up to ten times higher than commercially available filament extruders. The special appeal of the Exam 510 is revealed by the materials that can be deployed. AIM3D has equipped the system with a heatable process chamber specially designed for the use of high-temperature plastics. This makes it possible to also process high-temperature plastics such as PEEK, PEI, PSU, PPS, with or without fibre filling.


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