Agreement will cover next-generation functional polymer
Henkel and Nexa3D, the maker of ultrafast polymer 3D printers, have signed a new material development agreement. This builds upon the companies’ partnership and deepens their joint commitment to advancing the capabilities of additive manufacturing (AM) for volume production, states Henkel.
The two companies plan to develop next-generation functional polymers that leverage their combined technologies, specifically targeting volume production opportunities in industrial casting, footwear, medical and consumer goods industries.
As part of the expanding partnership, Henkel and Nexa3D are developing a new casting material designed for industrial metal castings suitable for applications such as automotive, robotics, heavy machinery and hydraulics. “Manufacturers can use the material to produce complex geometries to reduce weight and consolidate parts, resulting in affordable lightweight parts at high production volumes,” says Henkel.
“The new class of functional material is fully optimised for ultrafast 3D printing workflows. Use of advanced design for additive manufacturing tools will further optimise results possible with the material, enabling reductions in material and energy consumption, as well as final part weights and costs.”
Upgrading from traditional wax tooling to AM
The combination of Nexa3D’s ultrafast additive production platform and Henkel’s development of a new generation of casting material can digitise the casting workflow of foundries looking to upgrade from traditional wax tooling to AM. “This development delivers all the benefits of traditional metal AM, at much higher productivity, using supply chain-approved metals without compromising on quality
“Traditional manufacturing methods, such as using wax patterns, commonly require expensive tooling and refrigerated transport to maintain their shape during transport. This new casting material produces thermally stable patterns, eliminating the need for refrigerated containers or bespoke tooling for each design. The parts are also more sustainable, compared to traditional stereolithography processes, because they use fresh resin, rather than resin from a large vat that requires constant energy to maintain.”
Says Simon Mawson, senior vice president and global head of 3D Printing and Incubator Businesses at Henkel: “In order to accelerate the adoption of additive manufacturing, we recognise that materials need to be customised for a given printer platform to meet the specific needs of the end user. By entering into a formal material development agreement with Nexa3D, we can now leverage the power of ‘Albert’, our highly agile, proprietary, digital innovation platform, to unlock the full potential of the Loctite photopolymers portfolio and Nexa3D’s ultrafast additive production platform.”
Adoption typically constrained by technology
Explains Kevin McAlea, COO of Nexa3D: “We have found that fewer than five per cent of the more than 45,000 foundries globally currently use 3D printing, with adoption typically constrained by technology being either too slow or too expensive. Compared to traditional stereolithography printers, the combination of this new material and our ultrafast technology offers 20X productivity and produces far more robust parts.
"Foundries and patternmakers now have access to a complete digital workflow that enables them to speed up production and post-processing to develop patterns faster.
“Our extended partnership with Henkel also allows us to deliver new additive solutions to the market at a time when traditional supply chains are stretched and brittle. We’re not simply suggesting existing materials to customers — we are tailoring the material solution to suit our customers’ applications. For example, we are currently collaborating with Henkel on a new generation of ultrafast functional materials that improve modelling cycle time by orders of magnitude capabilities.”
Henkel and Nexa3D have an established partnership that this year has already resulted in the introduction of a new class of medical device, as well as a dedicated centre for AM advancement. The 3D printed SKOP telemedicine stethoscope was created using biomimicry design concepts, colour-matched materials and complex geometries only possible via 3D printing. The SKOP arose from a collaboration among Nexa3D’s technology, Henkel’s materials, contract manufacturing from Third, and healthcare company WeMed.
Full-scale AM customer centre
Nexa3D and Henkel further launched the NEXTFACTORY in Ventura, California, this year as a full-scale AM customer centre, which offers customers access to integrated post-processing technologies, material formulation customisation, colour matching and a variety of finishing options.
Following the launch of the new casting material, Henkel and Nexa3D will work towards further targeted formulations, they confirm. Applications in healthcare, footwear manufacture and consumer goods, for example, offer ample opportunity for next-generation functional materials and ultrafast 3D printing production capabilities.