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Technological advance – Freeformer 300-4X for fibre-reinforced components

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·     Outlook: Freeformer 300-4X with feed unit processes additive continuous fibres

·      Added value: Additional axis enables local component reinforcement

·    Application example: Individual hand orthoses for the medical technology sector

At the K 2019, Arburg will also present interesting technological advances to its Freeformers for industrial additive manufacturing. For the first time, a Freeformer 300-4X will be on view with a four-axis part carrier. This will make possible in future completely new applications in Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF). With the new machine, continuous fibres can be fed in and overmoulded in plastic in order to locally reinforce functional parts.

“Our developers are continuously exploiting the potential of the Freeformer even further. While doing so, Arburg always stays true to customer requirements and wishes,” explains Lukas Pawelczyk, Head of Freeformer Sales at Arburg. “At the K 2019, we will therefore present for the first time a prototype Freeformer 300-4X, that manufactures fibre-reinforced components in the APF process with the help of a fourth axis. In November at the Formnext 2019 in Frankfurt, we will also be presenting this machine and other exciting new innovations.”

A glimpse into the future: Freeformer 300-4X

The Freeformer 300-4X was developed on the basis of the Freeformer 300-3X, and also has three discharge units. The new centrepiece is a four-axis part carrier. Not only does it move in the x-, y- and z-direction, but can also perform rotational movements thanks to the additional fourth axis. This means that with the new machine continuous fibres can be set down on the part carrier in any desired orientation, and then formed using plastic into fibre-reinforced durable functional parts. The glass or carbon fibres are fed from a roll and set down on the part carrier. They are immediately embedded with plastic and then cut to the desired length.

Application example: Hand orthosis

A typical example for such functional parts from the medical technology sector is hand orthoses. At the trade fair, a Freeformer 300-4X will produce such an orthosis in hard/soft combination with local reinforcement. It replaces the classical metal-reinforced product and can be individually adapted to the shape of the patient’s hand. The goal is to realise areas under heavier strain with fibre-reinforced PA, for example. To protect the hand, potential pressure marks are also prevented by using soft TPE.

A wide range for additive manufacturing

The Freeformers cater for a wide range of industrial additive manufacturing applications. The Freeformer 300-3X can process three components into complex functional parts in a resilient hard/soft combination with support structure. The Freeformer can be used in the clean room and is particularly suited to applications in medical technology. If required, it can also be automated and integrated into complete production lines via optional interfaces.

All Freeformers work in the APF process using qualified standard granulates as a basis. Users can process their own original materials and optimise droplet size as well as process control themselves with the open system. Alternatively, they can access Arburg’s material database with reference materials. Included here, for example, are also very soft TPU, PLLA, and FDA-certified materials for medical technology.

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