voxeljet to Unveil First Commercial High Speed Sintering 3D Printer
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on September 13, 2017 | 3287 views

Earlier this year, we learned from the inventor of high speed sintering (HSS), Xaar’s Neil Hopkinson, that his technology was right around the corner from a commercial release. Now, industrial 3D printer manufacturer voxeljet has announced it will unveil the world’s first commercially available HSS system at the November formnext trade show in Germany.

Parts 3D-printed with voxeljet’s HSS system. The company suggests that the technology can be used for parts such as “brackets, housings and other functional parts for end use”. (Image courtesy of voxeljet.)
Parts 3D-printed with voxeljet’s HSS system. The company suggests that the technology can be used for parts such as “brackets, housings and other functional parts for end use”. (Image courtesy of voxeljet.)

HSS relies on an inkjet printhead to deposit a black infrared radiation absorbing ink onto a bed of thermoplastic powder, outlining the desired shape. An infrared lamp then heats the powder and causes the particles to fuse. By doing away with the expensive laser of selective laser sintering, HSS can sinter large swaths of material at a lower cost.

A diagram of the HSS process, in which powder is first recoated into a tightly packed layer before dark ink is applied and infrared lighting is applied. (Image courtesy of voxeljet.)
A diagram of the HSS process, in which powder is first recoated into a tightly packed layer before dark ink is applied and infrared lighting is applied. (Image courtesy of voxeljet.)

If HSS sounds similar to HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF), that’s because it is; however, HSS was invented first, with patents filed as far back as 2003. In its current form, HSS does not use a detailing agent, which is needed to incorporate functional material, such as conductive inks, into the printing process. According to Hopkinson, such a capability is feasible.

By doing away with the laser, HSS is capable of processing large areas of power at a time. (Image courtesy of voxeljet.)
By doing away with the laser, HSS is capable of processing large areas of power at a time. (Image courtesy of voxeljet.)

HSS will find its way into the marketplace through a licensing model, with firms licensing the technology from Xaar in order to incorporate HSS printheads onto their machines. The first such machine will be a modification of voxeljet’s VX200. The smallest of the German firm’s systems, the VX200 has a build volume of 300 x 200 x 150 mm.

Dr. Ingo Ederer, voxeljet chief executive officer, said of the new product, “Our new high speed sintering process will initially be launched on our VX200 platform. With that, we are excited to offer to our customers great flexibility regarding process and machine parameters, as both can be tailored by our customers to their specific needs. We offer the option of open sourcing for materials, as our customers can choose various testing and validation services from voxeljet. ProPrint, our new and modular printing software, is available in a full access development-kit, allowing for even greater customization options. The availability and application of a wide range of 3D printable thermoplastic materials, including elastomers, makes this product line ideally suited for material suppliers, universities, and other institutions.”

Hopkinson told us in April that voxeljet is actually the smallest firm to have licensed the technology. This means that in November, not only will HP have some stiff competition, but that competition will have stiff competition as well.

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