With today’s additive manufacturing technologies, It can take up to an hour to produce a component from molten plastic. This process is far too slow to produce components in large series, such as those required by the automotive industry. The SEAM (Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing) system, developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) in Chemnitz, Germany, now raises 3D printing speed to a new level: Their high-speed technology takes just 18 minutes to produce a 30-centimeter-long plastic component. A research team at Fraunhofer IWU has developed it for the additive production of large-volume, sturdy plastic components. Tool manufacturers, as well as the automotive and aviation industries, benefit from the fast 3D printer, which increases process speed by a factor of 8.
The researchers achieved the high process speed of the SEAM process by combining machine tool technology with 3D printing, explains Fraunhofer scientist Dr. Martin Kausch. To process the plastic, the researchers use a specially designed unit that melts the raw material and ejects it at a high output rate. They installed this unit above a construction platform that can be swivelled on six axes with the help of a machine tool's motion system. "This combination is unique to date," says Dr. Kausch. The hot plastic is applied to the construction platform in layers.