Three Freeformer exhibits were displayed at Formnext 2018, along with more examples of functional parts made using the Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) process than ever seen before. There was a world premiere in the shape of the Freeformer 300-3X, which for the first time enables the additive manufacturing of complex plastic parts from three components in a durable hard/soft combination with support structure. Four interactive stations were available where trade visitors could test the quality and functionality of selected parts for themselves. Furthermore, two tried-and-tested Freeformer 200-3X machines were on show, which are now available to rent at attractive terms.
“We’ve not only expanded our portfolio with the new, larger Freeformer 300-3X with three discharge units, we are also offering a new rental model for the tried-and-tested 200-3X machine,” explains Lukas Pawelczyk, who is responsible for global Freeformer sales. “The APF process and our two Freeformers enable us to offer an interesting complementary manufacturing technology for the production of functional plastic parts and thus cover a very wide range of applications.”
Extended range of applications
The fact that Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) can achieve more than additively manufacturing samples and individualising injection moulding parts will be demonstrated by ARBURG at the Formnext 2018 using the new Freeformer 300-3X and two models of the proven Type 200-3X machine. These will additively process original plastics to produce “real” functional parts. The open system based on standard granulates is of interest for numerous industries.
Diversity of functional parts
Trade visitors to Formnext 2018 saw the capability of the three Freeformer exhibits based on numerous functional parts. These include a very thin and stretchable “spider membrane” and bellows made of medical grade TPE (Medalist, Shore A hardness 32), watertight water cups with closures made of standard PP and transparent test plates made from PMMA.
For the first time, the Freeformer 300-3X used three components (ABS, TPU and support material Armat 21) to create durable hard/soft combinations for complex movable gripper fingers, haptically optimised toothbrushes handles as well as ergonomic handles for power tools.
Four interactive stations
Arburg will present a selection of functional parts made from various original materials at four interactive stations. One example is a rope pulley on a crane boom to which a weight is applied. This functional part made of chemically resistant bio-polyamide (Grilamid BTR 600) has a load-bearing capacity of up to 120 kilograms.
One of the products making its debut at the formnext 2018 is a manual model that was rendered conductive with the help of carbon nanotubes and features capacitive sensors. This means, for example, that LEDs grow brighter or dimmer, depending on the proximity of the visitor’s hand to the sensor. An assembly for a pinball machine is both practical and entertaining. The complex part was made from ABS, PA10 and TPU.
New rental model
To make it easier for companies to get started with additive manufacturing, Arburg will be offering a new rental model for the Freeformer, launched at Formnext 2018. The new “all-in” package will assist customers by offering a high level of Arburg expertise with a low level of investment. The package includes the rental of a Freeformer 200-3X for twelve months at attractive terms, production of a benchmark part, extensive application support from Arburg and access to the company’s material database. The customer can produce e.g. conventional functional parts, grippers, or assembly devices for in-house production from a qualified Arburg material for his product portfolio. The offer also includes training at Arburg, as well as individual in-house training on the customer’s premises. The focus is also on process-appropriate part configuration and
design. “Furthermore, the customer can call on up to ten man-days of APF expert support if necessary,” explains Lukas Pawelczyk, Head of Freeformer Sales, pointing to another added value of the attractive new business model, underscoring that, “The ‘all-in’ package makes it particularly easy to get started with Arburg Plastic Freeforming in a cost-effective way without tying yourself down.” After a year, the customer can decide for himself whether he wishes to continue and how. The rent will be credited in case of purchase.