“With PEEK, we have significantly expanded our range of materials. It is formed of medically approved original plastic granules, which means it is highly sought after in the AM industry. This material can also be used for technical parts,” explains Martin Neff, Head of Plastic Freeforming at Arburg. Lukas Pawelczyk, Arburg’s Head of Freeformer Sales, adds: “Converting PEEK is by no means the extent of what’s on display, however – trade fair visitors can expect to see four Freeformers and innovative practical examples that demonstrate the huge potential of Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF).”
A broader material spectrum: PEEK for medical technology
PEEK (polyether ether ketone) is of particular interest for medical technology applications. At formnext, a Freeformer 300-3X designed for high-temperature applications will convert our partner Evonik’s original “Vestakeep® i2 G” plastic granules into customised skull implants for the first time. The original material, which is approved for permanently implantable medical devices, broadens the application spectrum across which Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) can be used. The APF process is also of particular interest when it comes to practical use in medical technology, as it allows for process quality to be reliably documented and for each component to be carefully traced.
Another application for medical technology will be on show as part of a joint project with the University Hospital of Basel, which already uses a Freeformer 200-3X. The exhibit in Frankfurt will show the process of manufacturing resorbable Resomer LR 706 implants, which are a composite of poly L-lactide-co-D, L-lactide and ß-TCP. This Evonik polymer composite contains 30 per cent ceramic additives. This makes the component stronger and also releases calcium to promote bone regeneration.
Customised: Wilson baseball bats and robot grippers
Arburg uses several components to demonstrate how Freeformer customers generate real added value. One highlight among these are baseball bats from Wilson. The prestigious US sporting goods manufacturer uses the APF process to refine and customise its mass-produced products, for example baseball bat handles, in line with their customers’ requirements.
Another field of application is automation solutions and operating equipment. A Freeformer 300-3X produces a two-component gripper made from PC/ABS and TPU, designed for delicate removal tasks in Arburg’s injection moulding process. The key element is a soft TPU membrane that expands using compressed air to fit form.
We will also work with our partner OTEC to demonstrate how APF components can achieve the same surface quality as injection-moulded parts through post-processing.
Added value and fast time-to-market
The Freeformer can even process unusual materials, as demonstrated by tesa. The brand manufacturer, known for self-adhesive system solutions, processes adhesive granules. They will exhibit a smartphone with a bonded glass cover at formnext. Compared to conventional bonding methods, APF can reduce waste by around 90 per cent.
Arburg set a benchmark in terms of time-to-market with its “face mask” project during the Covid-19 pandemic – using the Freeformer, it took just 41 days from the development and optimisation of the first prototypes to the injection moulding mass production of the ready- to-use, multifunctional masks made from medically approved original material.
LAM process: InnovatiQ machine produces LSR components
In addition to the four Freeformer exhibits, the portfolio from InnovatiQ – including a LiQ 320 3D printing system - will also be on display for the first time at the Arburg stand. Through this company, which was integrated into the Arburg family in 2020, Arburg is able to offer its customers another additive manufacturing technology that allows it to be even more flexible when moving in its markets. The exhibit produces components directly from liquid silicone rubber (LSR) using Liquid Additive Manufacturing (LAM).