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While material research in many cases focuses on new filaments, etc., researchers in the northern Black Forest have turned the tables: Arburg Plastic Freeforming (AFD) utilizes qualified standard granules, such as those already used in injection molding, and makes them virtually 3D print-compatible. The in-house freeformer system melts the material, thus enabling layer-by-layer application with tiny plastic drops. As a result, original materials can be efficiently processed into individual parts or small batches and, above all, the system can handle several components.

That is precisely why AFD is currently the subject of a research project at the Würzburger Kunststoff-Zentrum SKZ (Würzburg Plastics Center) , which is developing fundamental insights into the additive manufacturing of multi-component parts. In fact, the processing of multiple materials within a component in additive manufacturing opens up completely new degrees of freedom as well as immense efficiency and innovation potential in terms of design, part design, functional integration, and cost-efficient production.

In addition to Arburg Plastic Freeforming, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Fused Layer Modeling (FLM) are also suitable for manufacturing additively produced hard-soft composites. The BMWi-funded IGF research project 19607 N will run until mid 2019. At the same time, the SKZ is also investigating the adhesiveness of additively manufactured thermoplastic components, non-destructive quality assurance procedures, and the new Melt Electrospinning Writing (MEW) , a combination of electrospinning and 3D Printing, which can process filaments 1 to 30 µm thin and is of special interest for medicine in particular.