Technologies we work with
FFF is an acronym for Fused Filament Fabrication which is a technology that is used in the phases of designing, prototyping as well as production. In a typical FFF system, the extrusion nozzle moves over the build platform horizontally and vertically, “drawing” a cross section of an object onto the platform. This thin layer of plastic cools and hardens, immediately binding to the layer beneath it. Once a layer is completed, the base is lowered to make room for the next layer of plastic. FFF is popular with companies in a variety of industries, from automotive (BMW, Hyundai, Lamborghini) to consumer goods manufacturing (Black and Decker, Nestle etc.)
Stereolithography (SLA) is a technology that converts liquid materials into solid parts, layer by layer, by selectively curing them using a light source in a process called photopolymerization. When an SLA part is complete, it is cleaned in a solvent solution to remove wet resin remaining on the part surface. Afterward, the part is put in a UV oven to cure it, completing the resin printing process. SLA 3D printers offer high throughput, unmatched part resolution and accuracy, and a wide range of print materials. SLA is widely used to create models, prototypes, patterns, and production parts for a range of industries from engineering and product design to manufacturing, dentistry, jewellery, model making, and education.
One of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS). SLS is a well-developed additive manufacturing process that can be successfully used for both prototyping and small batch production applications. The process uses a CO2 laser, which traces the required shape direct from a 3D CAD model via an STL file across a compacted powder bed of material. As the laser interacts with the first layer of powder it is fused – or sintered – to form the prerequisite shape, and as each layer is completed the powder bed drops down fractionally so the next layer of powder is introduced to the laser and can be sintered and bonded to the previous layer.
A distinct advantage of the SLS process is that because it is fully self-supporting, it allows for parts to be built within other parts in a process called nesting – with highly complex geometry that simply could not be constructed any other way. Complex parts with interior components, channels, can be built without trapping the material inside and altering the surface from support removal.
DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) creates parts additively by sintering fine metal powder particles, to fuse them together locally. A major difference between SLS and DMLS is the sintering temperature. In SLS, nylon needs to be sintered at a temperature of 160°C to 200°C, while in DMLS, metal melts at a temperature around between 1510°C and 1600°C meaning that a more high-wattage laser is needed to reach that temperature.
The DMLS process is highly beneficial for those who need to produce their metal parts for prototyping or low-volume production by eliminating time-consuming tooling. It also allows to create complicated and highly detailed designs that would be possible with any other technology, due to the limitations of the traditional manufacturing processes. For example, DMLS allows to integrate multiple components (like fasteners or mountings) into one only object, thus reducing the costs and delays of assembly.