The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM), Dresden, Germany, is expanding its range of sinter-based Additive Manufacturing technologies with a new MoldJet® system from Israel’s Tritone Technologies, Ltd. IFAM, reported to be the first European user of the MoldJet process, has installed the new machine at its Innovation Center Additive Manufacturing (ICAM).
The MoldJet process is described as a synergy of two manufacturing processes, allowing for the flexible production of customer-specific parts. Firstly, a mould is produced as a negative of the component geometry from a wax-like polymer with inkjet-like print heads. This printed layer of the mould is then filled with water-based metal powder paste in a slot-die process.
The process continues layer-by-layer, allowing undercuts or even internal channels to be possible without the use of support structures. Finally, the surrounding mould is removed, allowing the 3D-shaped green part to be taken for heat treatment and sintering.
Each additively manufactured layer is checked by an inspection unit, where defects can be detected instantly, mechanically removed and the layer remanufactured, if necessary. Data on the manufacture can be collected for continuous development of the technology.
The MoldJet process is reported to offer further benefits relative to some other AM processes:
- Fit for both small, intricate parts and large-volume components
- Surface quality compares favourably to typical laser-based technologies
- Internal channels and overhangs can both be realised
- Any sinterable material – such as stainless steel, pure copper, nickel-base alloys, titanium and refractories, or ceramics – can be used
- High productivity; with six manufacturing trays and six autonomous workstations, a productivity of up to 1,600 cm³/h may be achieved
- Low scrap rates
- Cost & materials savings
The new MoldJet manufacturing system was installed at Fraunhofer IFAM’s ICAM. Here, Fraunhofer brings together a wide range of AM processes and develops solutions for materials and component geometries. Alongside the MoldJet, the centre also hosts capabilities for Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-EB), 3D Screen Printing, metal-based Fused Filament Fabrication and Gel Casting.