Igus Expands 3D Printing Services To Include SLS

Igus, a privately owned company based in Cologne, Germany, is rapidly expanding its 3D printing product offerings and services—all focused on its core business of bearings and other motion control products.

The company, a major captive injection molder and specialty plastics compounder, is introducing a new tribological grade of plastics for selective laser sintering (SLS) and will offer printing services on the machine for outside customers starting this summer. The new plastic for wear resistant applications, designed iglidur I3-PL, is said to have at least three times higher abrasion resistance than other SLS materials.

Igus already owns four FDM (fused deposition modeling) printers, and formally launched its FDM services a year ago at Hannover Messe.

3D printed worm gear. (igus)

3D printed worm gear. (igus)

“The laser sintering is known in 3D printing for a much higher precision compared to the FDM process,” says Tom Krause, product manager at igus. “Another advantage of our new material is also that the parts can achieve a much higher strength due to the pressure in the SLS method.”

No support structures are needed in SLS because powder not melted by the laser provides support. As a result, less finishing work is required.

Igus is already offering prototypes and small volume production for four FDM grades of material: iglidur I180-PF, iglidur I180-PF BL, iglidur I170-PF and iglidur J260-PF. Two more materials will be introduced at this month’s Hannover Messe.

Igus operates more than 10 3D printers, some of which are used for internal purposes. One of its machines is an Arburg FreeFormer, which can make complex parts from standard plastics as well as the company’s own proprietary formulations.

One of the company’s applications for its new 3D capabilities is a right-abrasive filament allowing lubricant and maintenance-free movement in a racing car.

A printed component enables new positioning of the suspension stabilizer in a race car developed by a student team at a Bavarian technical high school.

“The teams in the race series ‘Formula Student’ try every season to optimize their cars by new designs and improvements in their vehicles to get advantages over competitors,” says Krause. “By attempting in their race car to run the chassis for the first time through the empty hood the student team how the rod of the suspension stabilizer may be attached. In order to keep the workload and the weight of the car as low as possible, while ensuring the necessary tolerances, the students opted for a solution from the 3D printer.”

About Doug Smock

Former Chief Editor at Plastics World and Senior Technical Editor Design News

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