Plastics technology firm Oechsler has brought powder-based 3D printing processes into series production through new partnerships with 3D printer OEM HP and automated post-processing systems manufacturer Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT).
The firm is expanding its additive manufacturing service portfolio at its Ansbach-Brodswinden site in Germany with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printers and an integrated fully automated post-processing cell developed with AMT in a seven-figure investment.
“Polymer-based additive series manufacturing has established itself as another innovative production technology at Oechsler,” said Dr Claudius Kozlik, CEO of Oechsler. “We are already realizing veritable high-volume projects in the key industries of automotive, sporting goods, medical technology as well as manufacturing with our globally more than 150 installed 3D printers.
“Thanks to the expansion of our site in Ansbach-Brodswinden and the fully automated end-to-end post-processing by AMT, we will be able to offer our customers an even broader technology portfolio in the future.”
Expanding series production with MJF
Oechsler’s customers include leading industrial customers, automotive suppliers, and key players in the sporting goods industry. The firm is already embarking on a number of projects leveraging 3D printing for lighter components, flexible designs, and various sophisticated functions.
The company is bundling its 3D printing capabilities together at its Ansbach Brodswinden site in order to achieve series production powder-based 3D printing. To this end, the firm is expanding its additive manufacturing production capacities by an additional 800 square meters to house MJF 3D printers.
“We have entered new product categories and markets with additive manufacturing and have thus been able to further diversify our portfolio of offerings,” said Matthias Weißkopf, Senior Vice President Global Product & Technology Development at Oechsler. “The expansion of series production with printers from HP reflects our strategy of establishing Oechsler as a manufacturer-independent development and production partner in the field of additive manufacturing.
“With our optimized infrastructure, we can support our customers with even more tailored solutions in development and production.”
Automated end-to-end post-processing
Over the past few years, Oechsler has built up comprehensive expertise in the post-processing of 3D printed components, and as such claims to be one of only a few companies worldwide able to offer series production 3D printing on a global scale.
To further industrialize its powder-based 3D printing capabilities, the firm has teamed up with AMT to develop and integrate a fully automated end-to-end post-processing cell into series production. The result of a one-and-a-half-year project, the cell is expected to be completed in 2023 and will be capable of finishing parts from 10 industrial 3D printers at once.
While Oechsler says the investment in AMT’s technology is a seven-figure one, a substantial investment for post-processing technology, the exact value has not been disclosed.
AMT’s PostPro technology works by suspending batches of parts in an ergonomically designed sealed processing chamber, which features a proprietary solvent blend introduced in vapor form in a closed-loop system. The consumable then reflows the polymer surface in order to remove irregularities, such as crack initiation sites, and seal the part to deliver smooth, complex geometries without degrading the component’s mechanical properties.
AMT’s PostPro technology is compatible with a wide range of polymers and is capable of processing MJF, SLS, SAF, and FDM 3D printed parts to their desired surface roughness.
“We are proud Oechsler has partnered with AMT,” said Joseph Crabtree, CEO and Founder of AMT. “The fully automated end-to-end post-processing cell we developed will enable Oechsler to achieve significant efficiency gains in the series production of 3D printed components in the future and will support the company in industrializing its additive manufacturing capabilities on a global scale.”
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Featured image shows Oechsler’s Ansbach-Brodswinden facility. Photo via Oechsler.