Company Insight Reliable and accurate industrial 3D printing challenges injection moulding processes
Felix Printers has launched the Pro 3, L and XL platforms for industrial production applications to meet the changing needs of the industry.
The shift of the manufacturing workflow to incorporate additive manufacturing in many industrial sectors has led 3D printing manufacturer, Felix Printers, to develop products and features to serve the changing needs of industry, paying careful attention to detail and listening to customers. The Pro 3, L and XL platforms for industrial production applications were launched end 2018. According to Felix Printers, Pro 3 integrates seamlessly into industrial workflows, be it in the office, workshop, laboratory or factory environment. The 3D printer produces optimised print results repeatably. The L and XL platforms are for greatly increased build volumes of up to 144 litres. Pro L is said to be able to build parts of up to 300 x 400 x 400 mm (11.8 x 15.75 x 15.75 in.), while Pro XL has a build chamber of 600 x 400 x 600 mm (23.62 x 15.75 x 23.62 in.), Felix explains.
According to the company, the larger systems incorporate highly engineered print chambers, which incorporate an enclosed warm zone and a cold zone, to ensure quality and reliability. The warm zone supports consistent temperature control during the build, which is particularly important when printing materials with a high shrinkage factor, such as ABS, carbon fiber or nylon. In contrast, the cool zone is where the electronics are housed, which prevent overheating and subsequent machine/build failure.
Felix says its industrial production AM platforms priced at €3,000 - €15,000 are affordable solutions for manufacturers, who currently rely on injection moulding. The cost-effective production offerings provide processes with shorter design-to market times for low-to-medium volumes compared to injection moulding.
While injection moulding is still the go-to technology for high-volume plastic parts production, it is characterised by significant up-front capital investment in tooling, which is also time-consuming, difficult and expensive to adapt. Agile 3D printing requires no tooling, facilitating quick production turnaround but high-volume runs do have a prohibitively high cost per part. The key is thus an AM technology that makes the manufacture of short-to-medium volume applications viable, which is where Felix focuses its attention. The industrial production AM platforms from Felix offer manufacturers to produce high-quality parts repeatably in a range of thermoplastics and other innovative materials. Another advantage is per-part cost is independent of part complexity, unlike an injection moulded part that requires more expensive mould tools for more complex parts. Furthermore, in production, Felix printers facilitate nearly unlimited geometric freedom, exhibiting very low to zero iteration costs, while having low downtime in the production cycle.
Conversely, applying injection moulding in production is restrictive in terms of location. The AM platforms manufacture directly from 3D CAD files, allowing for the location of the manufacture to be much more flexible.
Also, AM being a digital process, can be stopped and restarted at no extra cost, which enables production volumes as and when they are needed. With injection moulding, once the production process is initiated, the full run has to be completed to remain economical. This leads to warehousing needs which itself increases the cost per part. With Pro 3, L, and XL AM platforms, OEM’s have a reliable, cost-effective, and easy-to-use production technology for short-to-medium volume applications that rival injection moulding. Manufacturers benefit from the use of additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping and design complexity without penalty are accessible, thereby saving costs and time.
This article was first published by ETMM.