Temperature control – helping address the hottest topic in additive manufacturing
Innovations in additive manufacturing (AM) and materials science are enabling an ‘anything and everything on demand’ revolution in 3D printing.
Traditional manufacturing processes are increasingly being replaced by AM systems and even where a traditional approach provides a more cost-effective option, 3D printers are often an enabler for those solutions, for example by printing tooling.
In step with this widening horizon, 3D print capability is itself constantly evolving to optimise the value of progress in another area of innovation – materials technology.
A good example is PEEK (Polyetheretherketone), a very high-performance and durable material used in the aerospace, automotive, and oil and gas industry now crossing into new applications, including PEEK printed medical devices.
It’s an exciting time to be involved in AM, but it’s also worth remembering that there are two fundamental pre-requisites for success and safety – temperature control and emissions extraction…and BOFA systems play a critical role in both.
Chamber temperature control is essential because, by definition, 3D printers operate in a narrow temperature envelope from the bed up to ensure that feed material reaches the critical point where it can be layered and bonded. Likewise, the cooling process must be carefully controlled to avoid the risk of brittleness.
Getting this relationship right between maintaining a precise operating temperature and achieving effective filtration is critical in optimising the value of new generation functional materials. These are purpose designed to exhibit specific properties, such as scratch resistance and tensile strength, but increasingly need higher and higher temperatures to deliver their functional benefits.
Of course, the principal role for BOFA systems is to filter the nanoparticles and VOCs that are emitted as a result of 3D printing, the concentration of which both increase as temperature rises. This atmosphere management technology not only contributes to a high-quality product finish by filtering emissions, it also helps enable a healthy working environment for operatives as part of an organisation’s wider occupational health strategy.
Achieving both temperature control and filtration performance is essential. For BOFA this means ensuring that the process of recirculating chamber air to extract emissions is achieved without detriment to the required operating conditions.
That’s why BOFA’s 3D PrintPRO HT technology incorporates airflow innovations that actively help maintain optimal temperature conditions during 3D print operations. At the end of the process, the extraction system runs a purge cycle that helps cool the chamber progressively and methodically while passing the air through a carbon filter to help remove any VOCs that continue to be released.
The portable system’s advanced electronics, mechanical components and filters are either designed for high-temperature environments or appropriately insulated to deliver consistent performance.
These advances result from a close working relationship between BOFA, 3D print equipment manufacturers, materials technology companies, and end users. This partnership approach not only ensures that BOFA extraction systems help deliver effective filtration of fume, particulate, and gases to optimise 3D print quality today, it also creates an innovation mindset that anticipates the extraction needs of a constantly evolving ‘anything and everything on demand’ manufacturing industry.
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