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The processing of the material has already been successfully demonstrated without problems on various common laser sintering systems, and is used by several service providers for part production. According to the company’s philosophy of selling only final-qualified materials, only short running-in times on the machines are necessary. Thus, the production of customer parts is possible within a few days. In particular, the material has no tendency to curling or distortion, which makes it easy to achieve robust processing conditions.
The components have good mechanical properties and, in contrast to many other new material developments for laser sintering, exhibit ductile component behavior with elongation at break of over 30%. The range of applications for manufactured components is therefore diverse and ranges from simple housings to function-integrated parts with film hinges. The material costs are significantly lower than those of conventional standard materials, so that the use of the material offers economic advantages for many component groups.
As early as 2013, an elastic TPU material called ROLASERIT® PB for laser sintering was launched on the market as the first material of AM Polymer Research. It is characterized by very good flow behavior and multiple 100% reusability. Processing is possible on all common laser sintering systems. Here no disturbing smoke development occurs, whereby a simple exposure of the hatch is sufficient. The components produced with the material show elongations at break of sometimes more than 500 % and even in z-direction more than 300 %, have very good surface properties and high edge sharpness with good detail resolution. In addition, the hardness that can be produced can be variably adjusted between 70 and 85 Shore A by means of process settings. The components can also be used directly without infiltration and can be easily colored.AM Polymer Research GmbH has thus developed three different thermoplastic powders for laser sintering or powder bed fusion and distributes them under the brand name ROLASERIT®.
A grey-black polyethylene material ROLASERIT® PEGR completes the material range. The material was developed as an entry material for simple, inexpensive prototypes and makes the mass plastic polyethylene available for the laser sintering process. Like the previously developed material, the powder has very good powder flowability. Processing is also simple. The parts exhibit characteristic PE strength values with easily manageable component ductility. Due to the component properties typical for PE with low component hardness, the components can be finished very well.
In addition to the commercialized products, other important standard thermoplastics such as PA6 or PBT are under development for laser sintering. The current state of development already shows promising properties of these future products. In order to be able to react even more flexible to development trends in the future, a production facility with three production lines for powder production and refinement as well as the AM Application Center with an expanded laboratory are currently being built at the Willich site. Within this framework, a powder spherical shaping line will also be set up by the end of 2018. With this system, the properties of the powders produced can be further improved. The machine can be used to refine materials on a several tenth of ton scale.
AM Polymer Research GmbH, headquartered in Duisburg, is a spin-off from the University of Duisburg-Essen and was founded in 2014. The company specializes in the development, production and sale of laser sintering materials as well as the development of requirements-oriented materials in the field of additive manufacturing processes. The team of the company can look back on many years of experience in the field of additive manufacturing processes. The founders Dr.-Ing. Andreas Wegner and Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Gerd Witt has ten respectively twenty years of experience in laser sintering of plastics. In 2015, the company set up its own AM Application Center with laboratory in Krefeld. Timur Ünlü, a long-time expert in the field of powder production, joined the company in 2018.