As demand for additive manufacturing (AM) continues to grow around the world to address supply chain issues and take advantage of new functional materials, the focus is increasingly turning to the role of fume extraction in maintaining uptime and improving print quality.
Businesses simply cannot afford any unplanned downtime that adds cost, causes delays and disrupts customer relationships. Consequently, agility and reliability have become paramount in 3D printing processes to enhance productivity, but always with an eye on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace environment.
Critical to these complementary goals is BOFA’s success in developing portable filtration systems for 3D printing machinery, notably for metal powder processes, where captured emissions can be at risk of an exothermic reaction if filters are not exchanged in a strictly controlled manner.
Filtration efficiency is becoming increasingly important as AM undergoes exponential growth, notably in the US, China and Europe. Whereas just a few years ago, this was an industry characterised by just one or two 3D printers in a production environment, the vision for the future is for companies to invest in up to 50-100 printers in a single location.
BOFA is at the leading edge of filtration system development for 3D printing, with established technology in the field that is helping chamber environments to stay free from airborne contaminants, ensuring no pause in the print cycle, while contributing to safe and healthy atmosphere management.
In metal additive manufacturing, filter life is a particularly hot topic, because exchanging filters mid-process would likely result in product defects and significant materials wastage.
BOFA has already made significant progress in this area. The AM 400 uses patented technology to enable the safe onsite exchange of the filters that help remove potentially harmful particulates from metal additive manufacturing processes by isolating equipment and captured material.
The AM 400 incorporates BOFA’s world-leading Intelligent Operating system (iQ), providing users with touchscreen access to real-time filtration system condition visualisation and onboard data logs, as well as smart alarm configuration and remote system upgrades, enabling the timely exchange of filters in line with production schedules.
Now BOFA aims to go further with technical developments aimed at completely transforming the exchange process to bring to life the vision of 24/7 AM operations. This investment in research and development is made possible by the depth of expertise at BOFA’s disposal, both at the UK laboratory and via the world-class scientific resource at parent corporation, Donaldson.