potential for direct digital manufacturing is heating up as leading players add
high-level engineering thermoplastics to their materials' lineups.
the leading supplier of rapid prototyping equipment by volume, is now teaming
up Ultem 9085 polether
imide with new machines designed for direct digital manufacturing, which is the
production of parts directly from CAD files. EOS is now offering PEEK
(polyetheretherketone) polymer from Victrex for its laser sintering systems. Other
manufacturers, such as Z Corp. and 3D Systems, are developing stronger
extends the digital manufacturing process into the aircraft market in a major
way. Until now, Ultem 9085 was only available for use in conventional processing
methods, such as injection molding, which require expensive tooling.
using equipment originally developed for rapid prototyping creates
opportunities for design engineers to make parts even more complex than is
possible with injection molds. The cost of the materials coupled with processing
time, however, will limit adoption, at least for now to low-volume parts.
Ultem 9085 available for the FDM process will allow aerospace manufacturers to
adopt direct digital manufacturing on a larger scale," says Jeff DeGrange, vice
president of direct digital manufacturing at Stratasys (and formerly at
Boeing). Ultem is strong, flexible and 5- to 15-percent lighter than interior
parts made with other plastics. It's an obvious fit for the new models such as
the Boeing Dreamliner where light weight is particularly valued.
even allow the production of parts that couldn't otherwise be manufactured with
traditional methods," says DeGrange. "This can improve the assembly, design and
is heat-resistant up to 320F (160C) and is inherently flame-retardant, meeting important compliance standards such as OSU (Ohio
State University) heat release of less than 55/55, or 55 kw min/m2 for heat
release and 55 kw/m2 for peak heat release.
target markets include the marine-product and automotive industries.
Special machinery too
material will be used on the FDM 900mc that was developed specifically for
direct digital manufacturing.
says the 900mc has an accuracy rating of Â±.005 inch (or Â±.0015 inch per inch,
whichever is greater). "This rivals injection molding for accuracy and
repeatability," says Product Manager Patrick Robb. "For low-volume production,
it's a more cost-effective technique than traditional manufacturing."
Achievable accuracy, of course, is dependent on part geometry.
Stratasys systems also work with polycarbonate, polyphenylene sulfone and ABS
as well as other materials.
EOS is also
targeting aircraft markets with the first PEEK polymer than can be processed on
its high-end P 800 machine that was introduced at the end of last year in Germany.
development of this system was a logical step forward into the future because
laser-sintering is ideally suited for premium and complex applications which
are frequently based on high-performance polymers," says Dr. Hans Langer, the
founder and CEO of EOS, which is based in Kralling, Germany.
PEEK HP3, the new material is fire-resistant and light, while possessing high tensile
strength. Besides aircraft applications, the polymer will also be aimed at
medical applications because of its biocompatibility.
other new developments in the rapidly developing DDM market.
In one of
the interesting spins, players can design unique creatures
using the Spore Creature Creator with
hundreds of flexible drag-and-drop body parts and a virtually infinite number
of possible configurations. Players can then digitally paint their creatures
with unique patterns. Players can then upload their digital creations to
www.sporesculptor.com and place their order. The ZPrinted models (up to 4
inches tall) will be shipped directly to consumers.
Electronic Arts sells the Spore Sculptures for $49.50.
uses various powder/binder/infiltrant systems to make parts. The strongest for
industrial uses are high-performance composites, such as zp 131. Z Corp. uses
an inkjet printer system that combines binders and powders.