EOS used last week’s Formnext show to unveil its latest 3D printer, the P500. This is designed for mass producing polymer parts.
Dr Tobias Abeln, chief technical officer for EOS, says: “We call it a factory line for mass production. It’s based on a modular platform so we can create different configurations easily.” He added: “We have standard interfaces and monitoring functions.”
It can produce up to 300ºC to work with high performance polymer materials such as PA6, PBT, PET and PPS. The first high performance polymer available for the P500 will be PEKK, which has good thermal stability, inherent flame retardancy and high chemical resistance, all of which make it a good alternative to metal. EOS recently signed a deal with the chemicals company Arkema to develop a material based on Arkema’s Kepstan PEKK line. EOS is also working with Evonik and BASF to develop future polymer materials.
The overall aim is to reduce the cost per part to open up new applications using polymer materials. To this end, Abeln says that the P500 can produce parts up to 30 percent cheaper then the P396, which is currently EOS’ fastest laser sintering machine. This is largely due to the increased speed, thanks to a dual-laser system fusing the powder. The build volume is 500 x 330 x 400mm with a build rate up to 40mm/hr.
There’s a new recoater, which can apply a new layer of powder at a rate of 600mm/sec. The new system also preheats the polymer material before it reaches the build platform, which optimizes the material flow, reducing layer times. In addition, the system can reuse all recycled powder for the next build job at higher fill rates.
EOS has also streamlined all the processes around the actual build. Thus the exchangeable frame is preheated, and the used frame cooled down, outside of the machine. The changeovers between the jobs takes just 15 minutes. The machine should only need cleaning once a week and maintenance just once a year.
Materialise has already bought the first P500 for its own on-demand additive manufacturing operation. Bart Van Der Schueren, chief technology officer at Materialise, explained: “We look forward to the boost in productivity delivered by the EOS P 500 solution and the new possibilities for series manufacturing created by the integrated platform automation. The shorter cycle times will help us to meet increasingly tight deadlines as the demand for industrial polymer printing grows. We look forward to exploring the use of new materials and new applications with the support of the mid-temp capability.”