The Munich-based 3D printing specialist EOS has developed a new additive manufacturing technology that accelerates the manufacturing process by a factor of 10, giving it the same level of productivity as injection molding. The process uses a plastic powder as a basis material. Unlike selective laser sintering, in which a CO2 laser processes the entire production field, LaserProFusion uses just under one million diode lasers, of which only those required melt the polymer powder down to the nearest pixel and layer by layer; a CAD model of the component serves as template. This results in much shorter exposure time regardless of the nature and number of workpieces.
Thanks to its speed and precision, the new process is particularly suitable as a tool-less alternative to injection molding, which until a few years ago was considered to be the cheaper approach, apart from prototyping, to series production. A combination is nevertheless also conceivable: The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) is currently working on a solution that combines the advantages of both types of production .