Floreon in 3D printing… (May 2014)

The process of 3D printing is the production of a three dimensional object from a digital model.

It is achieved by adding successive layers of material laid down in different directions, which is the opposite to traditional 3D model shaping which uses a subtractive technique.

3D printing was first introduced in the 1980’s but is only now becoming more widely used in commercial markets and will soon be making big waves in the world due to the many uses of this innovative technology.

It has been predicted that the growth of 3D printing will far exceed any other product category, with the shipment of machinery increasing by 95% and market worth projected to reach billions of dollars by 2017.

Even though there has been a lot of “buzz” around 3D printing and the growth in use and popularity, there have been two big issues highlighted:

Writing out individual structures ‘line by line’ can be a time consuming process compared by simply injecting material into a ready made mould, and can also lead to a ‘stepping effect’ which leaves a poor surface finish on printed structures.

However, being able to create structures directly from a 3D model on a computer cuts out the need for expensive tooling and moulds. This flexibility has made 3D printing an ideal prototyping technology.

As speed and performance increase, the technology is now moving beyond this niche and is actually being used for the production of finished parts.

Currently most filament is produced from either polylactic acid (PLA) or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) . PLA is a popular choice because it processes at low temperatures and is made from renewable resources. ABS on the other hand has excellent performance and can be used to make more durable parts.

Like other plastics, the properties of PLA are now being enhanced through the production of compounds such as Floreon. The ultimate goal for the Floreon team in this field is to produce a PLA filament, but with the performance of ABS. Watch this space!

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