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Author : Tronserve | Friday, 14 June 2019

FELIXprinters AM Platforms — An Alternative to Injection Moulding

Author : Tronserve | Friday, 14 June 2019

(June 13th 2019; IJsselstein, The Netherlands) As many industrial sectors have shifted their manufacturing workflow to incorporate additive manufacturing, FELIXprinters has repositioned itself and its portfolio to serve the changing needs of industry. This has been reached through careful attention to detail, listening to what customers say, and building products and features to meet their needs.


As such, from the end of 2018, FELIXprinters has launched the Pro 3, L, and XL platforms for industrial production applications.


The Pro 3 was developed to integrate gracefully into industrial workflows, whether that is in an office, a workshop, laboratory, or factory environment. The priority was to deliver a 3D printer that produces improved print results repeatably. This is what customers told FELIXprinters was most discouraging for them in their day-to-day procedures with 3D printing, and these are the issues the company set out to address with the Pro 3.


FELIXprinters L & XL platforms have been evolved with significantly boosted build volumes, up to 144 Litres (the Pro L can build parts up to 300 x 400 x 400 mm or 11.8" x 15.75" x 15.75"; while the Pro XL has a build chamber of 600 x 400 x 600 mm or 23.62" x 15.75" x 23.62").


To ensure the quality and reliability upon which FELIXprinters has made its reputation, both of these larger systems incorporate highly engineered print chambers, which incorporate an enclosed warm zone and a cold zone. The warm zone supports steady 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, to prevent overheating and subsequent machine/build failure.


With these industrial production AM platforms, FELIXprinters has launched affordable solutions (€3000 - €15,000) to manufacturers that at the moment have to trust on injection moulding, with all this suggests in terms of expense and lack of agility. FELIXprinters AM platforms provide a cost-effective production process with shorter design-to market times for low to medium volumes than injection moulding.


Injection moulding is still the go-to technology for high volume plastic part production, but it is recognized by significant up-front capital investment in tooling, which is also time-consuming, and complicated and expensive to adapt.


3D printing needs no tooling and is agile which facilitates quick production turnaround, but for high volume runs does have a prohibitively high cost per part. The key is an AM technology that causes the manufacture of short - medium volume applications viable, and it is here that FELXprinters has focused its attention.


Through the use of FELIXprinters' industrial production AM platforms, manufacturers can produce high-quality parts repeatably in a range of thermoplastics and other advanced contents. An additional advantage exists through the use of 3D printing for production, and that is that part cost is not connected with part complexity. As soon as complexity is introduced to an injection moulded part, the needs is for more and more expensive mould tools, which directs to an exponential increase in costs.


Beyond non-costly part complexity, FELIXprinters' AM platforms for production also facilitate nearly infinite geometric freedom, display very low to zero iteration costs, and have low downtime in the production cycle.


Conversely, injection moulding makes design iterations costly, and beyond the high cost of upfront tooling which improves with boosted part complexity, means that production is limited to the location of the production tooling. As FELIXprinters' AM platforms — in common with all 3D printing technologies — manufacture direct from 3D CAD files, the location of manufacture is much more versatile.


Also, as AM is a digital strategy, it can be ended and started again at no cost, meaning that production volumes can be correctly aligned with demand day to day, week to week, month to month. With injection moulding, once the production plan is initiated, it needs to fulfill the full run instantly to remain economic, which therefore necessitates the need for warehousing which itself increases the cost per part.


Through the use of FELIXprinters' Pro 3, L, and XL AM platforms, OEM's have a highly trustworthy, cost-effective, and easy-to-use production technology to that in some short to medium volume applications can rival injection moulding. Manufacturers can benefit from the fact that through the use of additive manufacturing, fast prototyping and design complexity-without-penalty are accessible, and now also the usual issues that prevent manufacturers from using AM in production (namely cost and speed) have been answered.

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