Through its 3DPro line of products, Nippon Gases, one of the world’s leading industrial and medical gases companies, now offers gas and equipment specifically for the additive manufacturing industry. Until now, the only major gas company making significant public moves in the additive manufacturing space was Linde. However other major gas players are also active and competition is increasing.
On the recently launched website dedicated to the 3DPro products, Nippon Gases highlights that “3D printing is a multilayer process and if, during this process, the surface oxidizes, then it remains strapped in the product. It is precisely for this reason, that these two pollutants must be reduced as much as possible since there is no chance to repair damages, which translates into product loss.” These aspects are of fundamental importance when targeting large batch part production, where ruining an entire build due to impurities can lead to significant financial losses.
The 3DPro offering includes the 3DPro Gas Line, 3DPro Dry Gas Tube, 3DPro Purifier, 3DPro Metal Cabinet, 3DPro Link, and 3DPro Recirc.
Nippon Gases’ 3DPro Gas Line includes nitrogen – commonly used for Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) with materials such as stainless steel, argon – used for other types of materials, helium – used in the Electron Beam Melting (EBM) process and, although it is expensive to use for this process, it only consumes a small amount of the gas, and Sanarc H3 – a mixture of argon, nitrogen, and a small percentage of hydrogen. Sanarc H3 is used exclusively for copper alloys, usually in the PBF printing process, and is required for the binder jetting and bound metal extrusion processes during the sintering post-processing.
Nippon Gases’ 3DPro Dry Gas Tube provides three-layer protection from air impurities. The layers combine lightweight, durability, toughness, and heat resistance. 3DPro Link has been developed to aid in the control management of the gasses while the 3DPro Purifier consists of absorbent cartridges, installed in the machine gas inlet, that retain pollutants, and prevent any risk of contamination in the distribution line.
Nippon Gases developed the 3DPro Cabinet as a solution to preserve metal powder from atmospheric contamination before the process. By eliminating the presence of oxygen and moisture, the process can be stabilized and standardized – protecting the metal powder and reducing the chances of defects in the final products.
Finally, the 3DPro Recirc is a recirculation purification system for PBF printing. The system is integrated into the 3D printer and eliminates impurities generated by the laser process, such as welding fumes and spatters, as well as oxygen and moisture derived from metal powders. Advantages include the reduction of the purification time, less gas consumption, and the stabilization of the 3D printing process.