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Video: Additive Manufacturing Of Smooth Elastic Parts Made Of TPU
Built-in parts with geometrically highly complex lattice structures, damping elements with zones of different elasticity or wear-resistant control parts with easy-to-grip soft touch feel are typical examples of products that are made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) today.
FKM Sintertechnik is one of the few suppliers who are able to economically manufacture this elastomer in a layer-building process for 3D printing. The company can currently not complain about the demand for this rubber-like material. “Laser-sintered components made of thermoplastic polyurethane are becoming increasingly popular with designers and product developers in the consumer, automotive and fluid technology industries. We are constantly discovering further fields of application for laser-sintered TPU in the joint projects with our customers - for example, the production of fine hoses with very small diameters,”says FKM Managing Director Jürgen Blöcher. For the TPU processing, FKM Sintertechnik uses a specially optimized for selective laser sinteringpowdery material variant.
Elastic but dimensionally stable
It can be used to manufacture molded parts whose material profile is characterized by an extraordinary combination of strength, elasticity and wear resistance. In combination with the typical design advantages of laser sintering - such as the simple realization of internal structures or complicated undercuts - the designers and constructors have great freedom in the design of innovative structures made of TPU. Additional advantages arise from the possibility of subsequently coloring the material.
Smoothing to a high gloss level
FKM Sintertechnik has another specialty to offer, particularly for the realization of molded parts and components made of TPU with increased demands on the optical, haptic or fluid properties: smoothing the surfaces to a high gloss level.
The TPU parts go through a process-related process called Smooth, about which the company does not reveal any further details. “The residue-free process is an in-house development and a real innovation. We are currently the only supplier in the 3D printing industry that can use it,”emphasizes Jürgen Blöcher, Managing Director of FKM.
The rubber-like elasticity of TPU is in no way influenced by the process; and precisely because all internal areas of a TPU component are reached during smoothing in the smooth process, the process is of great interest for the fluidic optimization of fluid technology components. (qui)
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