Fraunhofer IPA, University of Bayreuth and voxeljet AG launch new HSS Material Network for 3D printing polymer qualification

In order to accelerate the qualification of new polymer materials for High Speed Sintering (HSS) technology – as used in voxeljet’s additive polymer manufacturing processes – Fraunhofer IPA, the University of Bayreuth and voxeljet AG have initiated the HSS Material Network. The network offers customers a flexible way to have new 3D printing polymers tested, qualified and certified.

Friedberg, greater Munich – In order to achieve high-quality parts using additive manufacturing, the 3D printing system and the material to be processed need to be precisely matched to each other. To help customers identify the ideal material for their application and determine suitable process parameters for manufacturing, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, its Process Innovation Project Group, and the University of Bayreuth, with its Chair for Environmentally Friendly Production Technology, and voxeljet AG, manufacturer of industrial 3D printers and provider of on-demand services, have launched the HSS Material Network.

The new HSS Material Network aims to share knowledge and jointly accelerate the development of new polymer materials for additive manufacturing. In the network’s workflow, voxeljet plays a mediating role and discusses the initial requirements with the customer. Subsequently, the connection is established between the customer and the Fraunhofer Process Innovation Project Group of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Döpper.

The research and development focus of the Fraunhofer IPA lies in particular on organizational and technological tasks from the field of production, while the University of Bayreuth focuses on theoretical basic research. A common focus of the two closely cooperating research institutions is the industrialization of additive manufacturing. This cooperation results in an optimal symbiosis between application-oriented and fundamental research, which can be used to answer a wide range of research and development questions from the industry.

The Campus Additive Innovations (CA.I), an inter- and transdisciplinary think tank at the University of Bayreuth in which scientists from a wide range of disciplines, such as materials engineering, production engineering and chemistry, work together and advise companies, was also formed as a result of this cooperation. The CA.I and its members have numerous different 3D printing systems at their disposal, including a VX200 HSS from voxeljet. As a completely open platform, this 3D printer with customizable parameters is ideally suited for matching printing process and material.

“Medium-sized companies in particular often lack the equipment, interdisciplinary skills and resources to conduct their own materials research and technology optimization. To close this gap, we founded the Campus Additive.Innovations,” explains Döpper. In addition to a variety of different additive manufacturing systems, the research team chose the VX200 HSS from voxeljet. It is necessary that the manufacturing systems have open software and hardware interfaces, allowing individual setting of all process parameters and free programming of the process steps. This machine park, which spans multiple manufacturers, offers the optimal prerequisite for coordinating the additive manufacturing process and the material. “The HSS Material Network offers customers and interested parties a flexible and low-risk outsourcing option for material development “, continues Döpper.

James Reeves, Global Director for Polymer Printing at voxeljet, adds: “High Speed Sintering is an additive manufacturing technology that is highly productive, flexible and also ideally suited for the production of higher volumes. But the potential of additive manufacturing has not yet been fully exploited as long as there are materials that cannot yet be printed. Given that we can look at more than 18,000 polymer materials, there is still a lot of work to be done. That’s why we created the HSS Material Network. By collaborating and openly exchanging ideas with industry leaders and renowned research institutions such as Fraunhofer IPA, we are able to significantly accelerate the development of new materials – and at a fraction of the cost that alternative offerings claim. Customers thus receive a fast and application-oriented solution that is specifically tailored to their needs.”

The HSS Material Network is linked to voxeljet’s Material Certification Lab, and independent organizations wishing to advance the development and qualification of polymer materials for the HSS process can join it informally. Through collaboration and knowledge exchange, the development of polymer materials for additive manufacturing can thus be advanced.

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