3D Printer Hardware3D Printing Processes

A closer look at Orion AM’s Thermal Radiation Fusion 

The company's unique approach to material extrusion 3D printing process can produce incredibly strong parts

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You may not have heard of Germany-based Orion AM, and that’s likely because they were formed just before the pandemic. Their goal is to produce parts for advanced applications using aerospace-grade polymers, like PEEK and similar high-temperature engineering materials [the company was recently in the news, as its technology is being used for the first known 3D printed parts to ever touch down on the Moon’s surface]`.

Their unique Thermal Radiation Heating process provides a twist on traditional FFF 3D printing.

Normal FFF processes involve laying down a line of extruded polymer on top of a prior layer. The problem is that the earlier layer has cooled somewhat, making the bonds between the layers less strong. This is quite evident in many typical 3D prints as they tend to break along layer lines. Some even re-orient parts to ensure the layer lines do not align with expected mechanical stresses.

None of this would matter if the parts were truly isotropic, where the mechanical properties are identical regardless of the direction of the force. No layer lines would exist.

That’s the typical scenario for injection molding, where the entire part is liquid and crystallizes all at once. As a result, injection molded parts are often seen as “superior” to 3D printed parts, although the geometry constraints can be severe.

Orion AM’s FFF-TRH process apparently solves this issue. While the extrusion part of the FFF process is basically the same, the chamber in which the extrusion takes place is bathed in thermal radiation.

Read to find out all about Orion AM’s Thermal Radiation Fusion technology in the original article on Fabbaloo.

Isotropic part printed on the A150 Thermal Radiation Heating 3D printer [Source: Orion AM]
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Kerry Stevenson

Fabbaloo's founder Kerry Stevenson has been fascinated with 3D printing after seeing the idea introduced by Star Trek decades ago - and now it is a reality. He's been writing Fabbaloo since it began in October 2007 under the gradually-becoming-less-mysterious pseudonym "General Fabb".

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