Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology presented a novel 3D printer at the Hannover Messe. This is based on a new printing process called "Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing" and is therefore intended to work faster and more accurately than the products previously available on the market. In addition, no plastic filament is processed, but granules, whereby the production is cheaper. However, the new 3D printer is not really suitable for private use for two reasons. On the one hand, it is extremely large and on the other hand, the ground vibrates very strongly during the printing process. At the Hannover Messe, the new development was therefore unable to demonstrate its full potential.
The mobile platform has two big advantages
At first, the ESAM printer does not seem to work any different from the well-known models. Thus, the granules are melted in an extruder and applied via a print head to the desired area. However, the printhead is not flexible in this case. So he can only go up and down, but not change his position. Instead, the platform on which the object is printed is movable. It stands on six legs and can be brought into the desired position via different axes. This has the great advantage that sloping surfaces can be printed without transition. The previously often seen small gradations are thus a thing of the past.
The printer was developed for the industry
In addition, the entire printing process is completed much faster. This allows the ESAM 3D printer to apply up to seven kilograms of granules in one hour. For comparison: Conventional 3D printers sometimes take about twenty hours for one kilogram of plastic. This long processing time is responsible for the fact that 3D printers can not be used commercially in many cases yet. However, this could change as a result of the new development of the Fraunhofer Institute. The participating scientists are primarily focusing on their use in industry. For example, rarely needed tools could be printed quickly if needed. Similarly, the use in the production of small series in the luxury sector is conceivable.