FormnextLFAMPellet extrusionTrends 2024

A wrap-up of Airtech’s larger-than-life Formnext 2023

Including live printing by LFAM partners, in-person presentations, and the showcasing of large tooling parts

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As always, Airtech’s presence at this year’s Formnext in Frankfurt was noteworthy, partly thanks to their big, blue, hard-to-miss 3D printed tooling parts, but more so thanks to their collaborative approach to showcasing their materials – particularly the group’s latest recycled PETG Dahltram T-100GF. Airtech’s LFAM partners, which include Caracol, CEAD, and Weber Additive, were all printing live at the event with Airtech thermoplastic polymer resin pellets while others such as Thermwood, CMS, and Belotti showcased finished molds.

Dahltram T-100GF is Airtech’s first recycled grade thermoplastic polymer resin for pellet-fed, large-scale 3D printing, and combines the perks of recycled grade co-polyester resin with the strength of fiberglass reinforcement. This material excels across diverse applications including – but not limited to – rapid prototyping, low-temperature molding, trimming tools, architectural structures, and casting patterns. Not only is this innovative resin sustainable and versatile, but is also cost-effective compared to other materials available on the market.

At the event, there was a lot of talk about the advantages of pellets as a feedstock compared to the more commonly used filament, especially when it comes to LFAM. This topic was a large portion of Caracol’s panel discussion titled ‘The rising role of LFAM for industrial manufacturing’, in which Airtech’s Director of Additive Manufacturing, Gregory Haye, was a participant.

Pellets are significantly simpler, and therefore cheaper, to produce compared to filament, which can lead to considerable cost savings. The process of pellet production also allows for a wider range of materials to be used, including composites and high-performance polymers that are not always available or practical to produce in filament form. In addition to all this, pellet-based systems can typically extrude material faster than filament-based systems, which is a crucial factor in scaling up the size of prints.

Gregory also gave a presentation titled ‘Closing the loop on high performance materials’, with a focus on communicating the important commercial best practices customers, and the industry, must be willing to participate in to support the practices of recycling 3D printed molds and parts, at CEAD’s booth. A few days prior to Formnext, the two companies announced their new partnership in which CEAD’s robust robot-based large-format Flexbot systems were integrated into Airtech’s advanced manufacturing portfolio. CEAD’s technology now resides at Airtech’s Springfield, Tennessee, Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, where it plays a pivotal role in the development of innovative resins such as the Dahltram T-100GF.

Airtech’s recent innovations and general approach not only spotlight the potential of sustainable materials but also speak to the collaborative spirit essential for the AM industry to flourish.

Composites AM 2024

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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