Arburg optimises the software for its Freeformer machines so that, in future, all water-soluble Armat support materials can be applied in a grid structure that is optimised for Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF). This will shorten build times in the APF process by up to 55 per cent – while also reducing material consumption. The water-soluble support material can then be washed out without manual finishing work.
“At the rapid + tct 2022 trade fair in Detroit, USA, we will be demonstrating how complex Freeformer components can be produced around 40 to 55 per cent faster, depending on geometry and application, thanks to a process-optimised grid-type support structure in the APF additive manufacturing process,” explains Martin Neff, head of the plastic freeforming department at Arburg.
Optimised software for accelerated process
The faster build speed is possible due to the optimisation of the Freeformer software: for all components with geometries requiring a support structure, the water-soluble materials Armat 11 and Armat 12 are now applied to the moving part carrier in such a way as to create a process-optimised grid structure. Rather than a compact build-up, a fill level of only around 20 per cent results in lightweight structures that can also be removed more quickly than before without finishing work in the next step. In this way, the grid structures save time when building up the component and removing the support material and, hence, save material and costs.
Less time to wait for a fully functional component
At rapid + tct 2022, a Freeformer 300-3X will be making an S-shaped pipe – as a typical example of a component – out of PP with water-soluble Armat 12 as the support material. With this example, the grid structure reduces the build time by around 50 per cent.
The savings potential is demonstrated in a particularly impressive manner in the case of the 1:16-scale functional model of a complex toggle-type clamping unit from an Allrounder injection moulding machine that was manufactured over the eight-day duration of the K 2016 trade fair using the APF process. At that time, the build time for the ABS component including support material was over 200 hours. Thanks to the grid structure, the build time can now be reduced by 54 per cent to 92 hours. The support material (600 grams) can be washed out completely in just ten minutes, leaving behind the toggle model with around 30 moving joints.
Support materials for the Freeformer
In developing new support materials for the Freeformer, Arburg collaborates with universities and established material partners. The water-soluble support material Armat 11 is the standard choice for many materials, such as ABS. Armat 12, which is also water-soluble, is offered by Arburg specifically for PP.