New FFF printer to revolutionize industrial additive manufacturing of high performance plastics

Auch mit dem auffälligen Design des PERFORMER260 im Prototypenstadium sorgte GEWO 3D auf der formnext für Aufmerksamkeit

GEWO 3D is looking forward to the new year and offers an insight into the upcoming new developments in 2019.

Industrial 3D printing will take a big step forward in 2019. GEWO 3D will also unveil new developments.

Beginning in spring, the already established 3D printer, the HTP260, will be upgraded. The HTP260 is currently the only FFF-3D printer that achieves a chamber temperature up to 260° C. Such a high ambient temperature enables the warp-free processing of high-performance plastics such as PEEK with excellent layer adhesion at the same time. The upgrade now takes on the electronics of the HTP260. The focus here is on increasing the maximum printing speed.

The highlight of GEWO 3D in 2019 is scheduled for November. The newly developed FFF-3D printer, the PERFORMER260, will be presented at the formnext in Frankfurt! At the formnext 2018 the first prototype could already be admired.

What is behind the PERFORMER260 and what makes it so special?

In the development of the PERFORMER260, the focus is on developing a 3D printer that meets as wide a range of industrial requirements as possible. GEWO 3D has put together a pool of criteria in many customer discussions and research which are indispensable for industrial use. In the course of this year GEWO will test the PERFORMER260 in practice for these industrial criteria in a BETA customer project. These criteria formed the basis during the R&D phase and are briefly described below.

Use of a high build chamber temperature: The demand for high-performance plastics is constantly increasing. In addition to their very good mechanical properties, these are also required due to high thermal requirements, e.g. in the vicinity of engine blocks, or due to media resistance requirements, e.g. for oil-carrying lines. For this reason, the newly developed printer achieves a chamber temperature up to 260° C, however, the required preheating time is halved despite the increased chamber size.

Enlargement of the installation space: In many areas the desire for larger components is present. Applications such as adapted cable ducts or ventilation shafts are mentioned here from the aerospace industry. The PERFORMER260 will therefore also have a larger installation space with dimensions of 450 x 450 x 350 mm (17.7 x 17.7 x 13.8 inches).

Multimaterial printing: The additive manufacturing process is particularly interesting because it enables the manufacture of components consisting of a combination of different materials. By modifying the materials, electrically conductive materials, for example, can be combined with non-conductive materials within a production part. Important here is the optimization of 3D printers for multimaterial printing and the processing of highly filled filaments. The decisive factors for industrial suitability here are short material change times and automated, thorough cleaning of the print nozzles. To meet these requirements, GEWO has developed an advanced printhead changing system for which a patent has now been applied for. This system makes it possible to prepare the next filament in a "printhead parking lot" while the current material is still being printed. Material change times of less than 5 seconds are thus achieved. The "printhead parking space" in the premium version has a capacity of 4 printheads.

Increase in production efficiency: In order to be able to use machines for additive production economically, an increase in printing speed is required, especially for the production of series parts, while maintaining the same requirements for dimensional accuracy and surface quality. GEWO has set itself the goal of achieving a material throughput of up to 0.5 kg/h. This will be achieved through the use of new technologies and a new printing strategy. In addition, machine downtimes when changing from an empty spool to a new spool are to be minimized. To achieve this aim, the PERFORMER260 allows the new material to be introduced during the printing process on a free print head. The changeover time to the new spool is thus only a few seconds.

Increased printing accuracy: Almost every industrial sector demands compliance with dimensional and shape tolerances. GEWO therefore uses ball screws specially designed for the hot printing environment. In addition, the integrated printing software and control are currently being optimized.

Integration of a filament drying system: Many plastics tend to draw water and make processing more difficult. To counteract this undesirable phenomenon, the PERFORMER260 will have an integrated filament drying system.

Use of an industrial control: One of the most important requirements for an industry-capable machine in additive manufacturing is the replicability of the results and thus the documentation of all process parameters. Many machines still lack industrial controls for this purpose. GEWO uses the MTX CNC system developed by BOSCH REXROTH. This makes it possible to digitize the workflow with typical tasks such as print configuration, job management, machine monitoring including online process modification or intralogistics control.

At the demonstration of the prototype during formnext 2018, Andreas Woitzik, Managing Director of GEWO Feinmechanik and thus also responsible for GEWO 3D decoupling, was asked whether too many developments had been tackled at the same time. His answer: "GEWO is well aware of the scope of this task. Our company has grown continuously over the last 40 years and now has around 370 employees. Our recipe for success has always been to strive for the optimum and, as a rule, to achieve it".

So we can look forward to an eventful year at GEWO and can be sure that we will hear a lot more about GEWO 3D and the PERFORMER260 this year.