K 2013: Arburg drops first K bombshell — it invents new additive manufacturing process

The worlds of precision injection molding and additive manufacturing are coming to a dramatic meeting point here at K 2013.

In an announcement in a late-day press conference before the show opening, Arburg—a leading global supplier of mostly small injection molding machines—said it has developed and will begin selling an additive manufacturing machine that uses regular plastic resins. Arburg has filed for 20 patents covering various aspects of its technologies, which were only indicated in vague terms during formal presentations and follow-up interviews.

The machine uses inkjet-type printing heads, but has a very different approach in how material is delivered to the heads. Most inkjet systems use filaments of material. Resins in the Arburg "Freeform" process are first melted with a screw, similar to how resin is plasticized in the injection molding process. The resin is then broken into tiny droplets in a piezo electric system. Size and surface of the droplets made from very homogenous material creates parts with strong mechanical properties, according to Arburg....

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