3D printing, more generically known as additive manufacturing, is rapidly expanding and can be subdivided in many 3D printing technologies including Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Digital Light Processing (DLP) and jetting. By means of these technologies all kinds of products can be printed without the need of (expensive and less sustainable) assembling techniques. However, the market provides only a limited choice of printing materials. An innovative development of these materials is needed, especially in the field of bio-based polymers, as a sustainable variant.
‘Accelerate³’ unites the specific expertise of the Dutch province of Limburg and the Flemish province of Occidental Flanders to bundle the necessary knowledge and testing infrastructure. Both regions represent this sector and have a similar economic fabric that mainly consists of small and medium-sized companies. They also face identical challenges and are active in a similar field, with complementary specialisations. The cross border collaboration between both regions offers thus an ideal opportunity to substantially broaden their knowledge and networking.
This cross-border clustering will enable the growth of the SME's in both regions. Several sectors (materials, manufacturers and software companies) will benefit from 'Accelerate³'.
Centexbel-VKC invested in the Arburg Freeformer technology for additive manufacturing. This technology departs from plastic granulates. To process the largest possible series of plastics, Centexbel develops materials and defines processing conditions. By doing so, the Freeformer can be deployed for prototyping and research by industrial partners.
We also invested in a monofilament extrusion line for the development and production of innovative polymer materials.
The Freeformer reinforces the Centexbel-VKC polymer processing platform in Kortrijk.
Centexbel is in charge of the material development and the validation of the processing conditions in which the Freeformer is used for research purposes and the production of prototypes for the industrial partners.
Several soft materials have been tested and validated by using the Freeformer, including TPU (polyurethane based thermoplastic elastomer) of 70 Shore A and TPS (styrene based thermoplastic plastomer) of 45 Shore A.
- Mixing of functional additives and reinforcement fibres
- polymer blends
- recycled materials
- production of bicomponent fibres