colorFabb partners with Colossus to develop a “revolutionary” foaming material compatible with FGF
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Dutch filament developer colorFabb has revealed that it is working with system maker Colossus to create a version of its ‘LW’ foaming material compatible with 3D printing Fused Granulate Fabrication (FGF).
First introduced in 2019, colorFabb’s PLA-based LW range incorporates active foaming technology, which allows users to FDM 3D print lightweight, low-density parts. The company’s latest variant, expected to come to market with Colossus’ new XS system, is designed to take these functionality to the next level and utilize FGF’s multiple heating zones to enable faster and more efficient component production. in terms of materials.
“The first time we encountered the LW material range, we immediately recognized the opportunities it would bring to the FGF market,” explains Philippe-Daniel Merillet, CEO of Colossus. “To imagine [applying] the principle of printing twice as fast or twice as light in large-scale industrial systems. Printing and alternating these effects with the same pastilles, machine and same G-code. It’s revolutionary.
colorFabb clears it up
Founded by CEO of Helian Polymers Ruud Rouleaux in 2012, colorFabb was launched on the back of a newly developed PLA which, when heated, foams to increase its volume by almost 300%. Said to allow users to reduce their material production by 60%, an updated “LW” version of the polymer is now being marketed by the company alongside an ASA edition, along with materials such as DSM, LEVHOSS, NinjaTek. and Igus.
Over the years, the company has gradually stepped up its business activities, unveiling a new head office in Belfeld in 2017, before adding various filaments including polyester-based nGen_LUX and varioShore TPU to its material portfolio.
ColorFabb has also partnered with other material manufacturers to develop new polymers, and over the past four years has been successful in collaborating with Robo3D for this purpose, as well as co-creating a polyamide infused with carbon fibers with LEVHOSS, which would have properties similar to PA6, but with improved printability.
Bring “LW” to FGF users
In its latest collaboration, colorFabb is now looking to combine its polymer expertise with Colossus processing know-how, to formulate, test and adapt a stable FGF-3D printable compound. Essentially, the development of such a material could be advantageous, as FGF systems feature multiple heating zones, which can potentially be configured to allow the foam materials to quickly reach their full expansion.
“The amount of energy the filament can absorb during printing depends on the length of the hot zone and the time it takes for the filament to pass through,” Merillet adds. “The longer a filament stays inside the hot-end, the more energy it can absorb. Assuming the nozzle size and layer height are fixed, the main input variables are temperature, speed, and flow rate to determine the amount of expansion.
Initial tests have reportedly yielded positive results, with companies achieving layer heights of 1cm using an 8mm nozzle, although they maintain that “material limits have not yet been reached”. Once ready, the polymer will be marketed by Colossus with its new XS series, a 1600 x 1200 x 1300 mm WEBER extrusion-fed FGF system, which is expected to be joined soon by a “containerized” version.
When used with Colossus’ XS series, Merillet believes the next FGF-compatible material will eventually allow 3D printing suppliers to produce parts with “exceptionally high layer heights” while reducing their manufacturing costs. .
“In printing services around the world, the cost is a function of the price of the material and the printing time. Higher layer heights reduce printing times, ”Merillet concludes. “It’s like having a 4.5 K / h extruder capable of 9 K / h, and the ability to print only percentages of normal weight, what’s not to like ? It will change the way people print from this point on. “
The large format potential of the FGF
Given its weight-saving potential, the new material from ColorFabb and Colossus could not have come at a better time for FGF users as the technology continues to find wide-format applications. DSM’s Resins and Functional Materials unit, which was recently acquired by Covestro, has played a central role in experimenting with such use cases, and has partnered with JuggerBot 3D to deepen its testing program. ‘last year.
Shortly thereafter, the company also announced a collaboration with Nedcam, in which it agreed to support its partner’s large-scale FGF commercial printing services. Specifically, DSM’s materials division is committed to helping develop and test new FGF materials, processes and applications in the marine, energy, construction and infrastructure industries.
Jabil’s subsidiary, Jabil Engineered Materials, also conducted its own FGF R&D, working with Titan Robotics last November to advance the capabilities of the technology for industrial applications. The companies not only succeeded in qualifying Jabil’s fiber-reinforced nylon composite for the Atlas 3D printer for Titan pellet-based extrusion, but also committed to continue to develop materials for the platform to the future.
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The image shown shows the Colossus XS series 3D printer in action. Photo via Colossus Printing.