Additive manufacturing is rapidly evolving with new, innovative technologies that are pushing the boundaries of 3D printing. At the recent TCT Asia 2023 event in Shanghai, attendees caught a glimpse into the future of AM, with dozens of new machines being unveiled across metal, plastic, and ceramic additive manufacturing.
From binder jetting leaders unveiling their latest ultra-fast, high-precision systems to breakthrough new vat photopolymerization technologies able to print fine features in ceramics, TCT Asia highlighted just how dynamic and disruptive AM is becoming. Companies showcased their newest additive manufacturing machines leveraging powder bed fusion, material extrusion, jetting, and more to digitally manufacture end-use parts with unparalleled speed, accuracy, and material versatility.
Binder Jetting Takes Center Stage at TCT Asia 2023
- Binder jetting is an additive manufacturing process that uses a liquid binding agent to selectively fuse powder material layer-by-layer to build a 3D object.
- At TCT Asia 2023, leading binder jetting companies like ExOne and Digital Metal showcased their latest systems with impressive specs:
- Ultra-fast build speeds up to 80mm/hour
- Exceptional precision down to ±0.1% dimensional accuracy
- Ability to print in a wide range of metals like stainless steel and titanium
- Key innovations in binder jetting technology revealed at TCT Asia include:
- Higher nozzle and print head resolution for finer features
- Faster binder saturation for quicker prints
- Reduced binder wastage through precise droplet control Integrated sintering furnaces for streamlined post-processing
- Binder jetting is ideal for medium batch production runs thanks to its speed, accuracy, and low waste. The advances displayed at TCT Asia 2023 reinforce binder jetting as a transformative additive manufacturing method.
VAT Photopolymerization Enables High-Resolution Ceramic 3D Printing
|Uses an ultraviolet laser to cure liquid photopolymer resin layer-by-layer
|Digital Light Processing (DLP)
|Uses a digital light projector screen to flash cure resin layers all at once
- At TCT Asia 2023, new VAT photopolymerization machines were unveiled that can print complex ceramic objects with fine resolution.
- These machines use specially formulated ceramic resins that fire into fully ceramic parts after print and post-processing.
- Key benefits of using vat photopolymerization for ceramics:
- Delicate features down to 50 microns
- Smooth surface finish
- No support structures needed
- Consistent, reliable print quality
- Companies like Admatec and Toyi showcased their ceramic SLA and DLP printers at TCT Asia, proving these technologies as viable production methods for high-end ceramic applications.
Metal Binder Jetting Leader ExOne Reveals New High-Speed, Ultra-Precise AM System at TCT Asia
ExOne is a pioneer in metal binder jetting with over 20 years of experience. At TCT Asia 2023, they revealed their newest system:
The ExOne Metal Designlab printer offers exceptional speed and accuracy:
- Build rates up to 80mm/hour for rapid production
- ±0.1% dimensional accuracy for precise, consistent prints
- Minimum layer heights down to 30 microns
- ExOne’s Triple Advanced Compaction Technology (ACT) allows dense green parts post-print to minimize sintering shrinkage.
- The system has an optimized recirculating binder system to reduce waste and lower part costs.
- Integrated powder handling and secure data workflow make the Metal Designlab an end-to-end metal AM production solution.
- With these cutting-edge capabilities, ExOne’s new binder jetting system positions them as leaders in high-throughput, industrial-grade metal additive manufacturing.
Lobotics Showcases Novel Robot-Assisted FDM Machine for High-Performance Plastics at Asia’s Leading Additive Manufacturing Event
- Material extrusion, commonly called Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), was well-represented at TCT Asia 2023.
- Lobotics unveiled their Amps 1200 system which couples a 6-axis robotic arm with a novel extrusion print head.
Key benefits of Lobotics’ robotic FDM machine:
- Prints high-temp and advanced engineering plastics like PEEK, PEKK, ULTEM
- Multi-axis arm enables printing without supports
- Integrated finishing tool allows automated depowering and surfacing
- Small footprint suitable for office, clinic, or shop environments
- Lobotics leverages artificial intelligence to optimize the extrusion process for reliable, high-quality prints.
- Their display of the Amps 1200 at TCT Asia highlights how material extrusion is evolving for printing production-grade plastics and composites.
Additive manufacturing has come a long way from its origins as a rapid prototyping technology. As witnessed at TCT Asia 2023, AM is now a transformative digital manufacturing method that allows complex, optimized end-use parts to be produced directly from 3D model data.
From metals to ceramics, binder jetting to material extrusion, established companies and startups alike showcased how additive manufacturing enables unprecedented design freedom, supply chain flexibility, and sustainable production. With systems getting ever faster, more precise, and capable of printing the most advanced materials, it’s clear AM is no longer just prototyping but the future of making things.
Events like TCT Asia provide a glimpse into how additive is innovating industry after industry. As the AM landscape evolves, these promising new technologies ensure manufacturers worldwide have the agile, on-demand digital tools to cost-effectively produce high-value, high-performance parts exactly when and where they need them. Additive manufacturing is here to accelerate manufacturing into a new era.
Q: What is additive manufacturing used for?
A: Additive manufacturing, also called 3D printing, is used to directly produce parts and products from 3D model data. It allows complex geometries to be created without molds or dies. AM is used for rapid prototyping, production of end-use parts, custom medical devices, tooling, and more.
Q: Is additive manufacturing the future?
A: Many experts see additive manufacturing as a transformative technology that will disrupt traditional manufacturing in the future. The design freedom, mass customization, and supply chain benefits make AM poised for significant growth across industries like aerospace, medical, dental, automotive, and consumer goods.
Q: What are the benefits of additive manufacturing?
A: Benefits of AM include reduced time to market, lightweight optimized designs, consolidated assemblies, reduced waste, on-demand production, mass customization, and localization of manufacturing. AM provides unprecedented design flexibility.
Q: What materials can be 3D printed?
A: From plastics like ABS, PLA, and nylon to advanced polymers like PEEK and ULTEM, metals including titanium, aluminum, and stainless steel, to rubber, wax, concrete, ceramics, and even food – an incredibly wide range of materials can be 3D printed today.
Q: What are some innovative uses of additive manufacturing in Asia?
A: Innovative AM applications in Asia include 3D printed electronics embedded during printing, composite tooling for mass production, digital inventory via print-on-demand, bespoke prosthetics, bio-printed tissues, and more. Many Asian firms are leveraging AM in creative ways.
“Additive manufacturing is digitally transforming production as we know it.”