Could FACTUM’s High-Speed Sintering Process Replace Injection Molding?
Kyle Maxey posted on March 25, 2014 |
A new high-speed plastic 3D printing technique aims to replace injection molding and CNC milling.
3d printing, high speed, plastic, UK, injection molding, aerospace, A new 3D printing technique capable of making finger-sized parts in less than one second could signal a profound shift in additive manufacturing’s potential.

Named FACTUM (latin: “to make”), the new machine uses a high-speed sintering (HSS) production method that was developed through the combined effort of academia and industry. Researchers at the Universities of Sheffield and Loughborough created the FACTUM printer, while British printing company Xaar developed its inkjet technology.

While details on how FACTUM works are scarce, we do know the machine sinters its powder material through the use of a heat lamp, rather than a laser. Once its plastic powder has been laid down the lamp passes over the material, sintering it with minimal damage and producing a higher quality product.

In addition to its higher quality end products, FACTUM engineers say the new printing method gives the system a wider range of material options than traditional laser sintering machines.

Beyond its origin as an academic project, FACTUM has picked up some big name support from the likes of industrial giants Unilever and BAE Systems. For Unilever’s part, the company is investing in HSS technology as a way to manufacture new packaging designs that can’t be produced by traditional injection molding.

On the other hand, BAE sees the new AM technique as a way to produce better “low-volume, high-added value products.” The aerospace giant also believes the technology gives engineers greater design freedom, which could lead to products with better performance.

With major investments from two large corporations in hand, HSS looks to be a promising development for additive manufacturing. “The fact that it has attracted the interest of the likes of Unilever and BAE Systems underscores this potential,” said David Chapman of Xaar. “[FACTUM could] radically change the way we think about manufacturing, introducing new designs and business models that we cannot even imagine today.”

Images Courtesy of XAAR

Source: TCT

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