3D printing technology provides various processes, depending on the area of application. The basis of all processes is a 3D CAD design to generate the geometric data for the printer.
Additive component production is very varied. To allow better differentiation, the production processes are splitted into 3 main groups:
- Rapid Prototyping
- Production of prototypes for product development
- Rapid Tooling
- Production of tool components, e.g. for injection moulding tools
- Rapid Manufacturing
- Production of series parts
Selective laser sintering (SLS) is the production process currently used by NORWE, as this technology is ideal for prototypes and small series (rapid manufacturing). The powdered material is applied in layers and melted or sintered using a laser.
Selective laser sintering at NORWE
There are several advantages to using SLS for producing components for coilformers and boxes. The design is very accurate in every detail and various materials and colours are available. The SLS process produces components, which can be used directly without additional expenditure during printing, such as support structures. Care must however be taken to ensure that the designs are optimized for easy printing with a 3D printer in order to compensate height tolerances, for example.
Application of a thin powder layer, e.g. of polyamide 12 plastic.
Melting the powder across the component cross section using a laser.
The component descends step by step. During descent, additional layers of powder are applied until the component is complete.
Alternative processing methods
n addition to the SLS process, various other 3D printing technologies are today also used, depending on the area of application. This means specialist components or self-shaping components can be produced.
This simple, additive prototyping method involves an inkjet printer head moving repeatedly over a bed of powder. A liquid-binding material is applied on a selective basis until the part is completely formed.
Fused Deposition Modelling or Fused Filament Fabrication
This process is based on a fused thermoplastic (ABS, polycarbonate or a mixture) which then hardens layer by layer to form a prototype.
This uses a computer-controlled laser to build the parts in a bed of liquid UV hardening plastic.
This process involves spraying layers of photopolymer plastic using a printer head. An UV light is then used to harden the layers.
Metallic laser sintering
This is the leading additive process for producing metal components. It is similar to laser sintering with plastic.