One sign of the sure-fire potential of additive manufacturing was news about developments in polyamide powders at K 2010.
In a press conference, Jean-Pierre Marchand, director of marketing and innovation for Rhodia’s Engineering Plastics, announced the launch of polyamide (PA) powders for rapid prototyping and small series manufacturing by selective laser sintering (SLS).
Rhodia said that additive manufacturing technologies (as opposed to machining, or subtractive technologies) have sales of around $1.1 million, with a potential estimated at $4.1 billion in 2015. “In this context, the potential for SLS powders is forecast to rise to between $138 million and $277 million by 2020,” says Pierre-Emmanuel Lucas, director of the PA Powder Project at Rhodia.
At its exhibit at K 2010, Evonik Industries, a long-time supplier of polyamide 12 for selective laser sintering, showed the FinGripper of Festo AG & Co. KG, Esslingen. Like the human hand, the Fin Gripper is said to adjust to the shape of the object to be gripped. It is produced by applying layers of polyamide powder 0.1 mm thick on top of each other and selectively melting them by laser.
Arkema is already an important supplier of polyamide powders for SLS. Rhodia says its polyamide 6 is the first powder developed specifically for SLS. The range will be extended to include PA 66 powders in the coming months.
The photo of the FinGripper from Festo AG & Co. (below) shows the capabilities of selective laser sintering as opposed to injection molding.