With the introduction of its Pro 3, Pro L and Pro XL platforms, Dutch additive manufacturing (AM) specialist FELIXPrinters has thrown down the gauntlet to the injection moulding process.
The products, launched earlier in April, are intended for industrial production applications and will, said the Utrecht-based start-up, open up the use of AM for in-house production in OEMs.
The Pro 3 was developed to integrate seamlessly into industrial workflows with a focus on repeatably delivering optimised print results.
“This is what customers told FELIXprinters was most frustrating for them in their day-to-day operations with 3D printing, and these are the issues the company set out to address with the Pro 3,” the company said in a statement 13 June.
FELIXprinters L & XL platforms were developed with greatly increased build volumes of up to 144 litres – the Pro L can build parts up to 300 x 400 x 400 mm; while the Pro XL has a build chamber of 600 x 400 x 600 mm.
Both of the larger systems incorporate “highly engineered” print chambers, which include an enclosed warm zone and a cold zone.
The warm zone supports consistent temperature control during the build, which is particularly important when printing materials with a high shrinkage factor, such as ABS, carbon fibre or polyamides.
In contrast, the cool zone is where the electronics are housed, to prevent overheating and subsequent machine/build failure.
With price ranges of between €3,000 and €15,000, FELIXprinters claims that it has introduced affordable solutions offering an alternative to the ‘less agile’ injection moulding process.
“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 characterised by significant up-front capital investment in tooling, which is also time-consuming, and difficult and expensive to adapt,” the company said.
By contrast, 3D printing requires no tooling and is agile which facilitates quick production turnaround.
While AM can have high cost per part for high volume runs, FELIXprinters claims to have addressed the issue by a technology that makes the manufacture of short – medium volume applications viable.
“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 requirement is for more and more expensive mould tools, which leads to an exponential increase in costs,” the company also pointed out.