German company AIM3D has announced the new generation of the extruders for 3D printing with granules of carbon-fiber and glass fiber polymer composites, as well as composite ceramic- and metal-filled materials.
AIM3D GmbH is a startup founded at the University of Rostock in 2017. It is focused on development of additive systems that extrude with granular materials: both polymers (pure ones, as well as carbon or glass enforced) and composites filled with ceramics or metals for sintering into full-metal or ceramic products. The process is called Composite Extrusion Modeling (CEM). The idea is to move from filament 3D printing to usage of various granules sized up to 3 mm, including those that are used in injection molding.
The ExAM 255 3D printer was the company’s first product. It’s equipped with the CEM E-1 extruders. Recently, the company announced a new generation of the extruders, named CEM-E2. They will be offered in three versions: optimized for pure, carbon-filled and glass-filled polymers (the ‘P’ line) polymer-ceramic ones (the ‘C’ line) and polymer-metal (‘the ‘M’ line) materials.
The extrusion speed has been increased twofold compared to the previous generation. It is now 220 cm^3/h. The new extruders allow for using an optional water cooling system. There are additional nozzles with the sizes of 0.4 mm (while the largest ones available are 1.5 mm), as well as improved filament feeding and material changing systems. (Chinese 3D printer manufacturer Creatbot has similar development plans. The company’s machines are already equipped with all-metal nozzles by default, and there are talks regarding integration of liquid cooling systems into large-format 3D printers such as the CreatBot D600).
The picture above shows an example that features the advantages of granular composites 3D printing. This is a part of a coolant collector that was designed for Schaeffler. It was made from polyphenylene sulfide enforced with 40%-glass fiber.This strong incombustible material is not available in powder or filament formats. The closest alternative for FDM or SLS 3D printers would be a PLA composite material, which would mean compromising on heat-resistance, strength and a low level of hygroscopicity.
New extruders, as well as the developments in the field of large-format additive manufacturing systems were shown at the Formnext event in Frankfurt am Main in November 2021.