Feeding, storage, screening, recovery, and conditioning - AZO solutions improve product quality and resource efficiency for metal- and plastic-based additive manufacturing
3D printing technology has made it possible to quickly produce intricate, customised components for demanding applications in industry, medicine, aerospace and other fields. But to profitably print high-performance, long-lasting components, it takes more than just an excellent 3D printer. In the additive manufacturing process with metal or plastic powders, as well as plastic granulate, bulk material handling plays a crucial role in ensuring operational safety, product quality and resource efficiency.
AZO is one of the leading specialists in automated raw material logistics for 3D printing applications and offers a comprehensive portfolio of solutions for the storage, conveying, feeding, conditioning and recovery of plastic and metal materials used in an additive manufacturing process.
High-quality 3D printing powders are not only expensive, but can also be reactive and potentially hazardous, especially in metal printing. To produce high-performance components, the plastic and metal powders used in additive manufacturing must be carefully handled to maintain their exacting physical and chemical properties.
To ensure safe and efficient additive manufacturing processes, AZO machines and systems are specially designed to meet the following requirements:
- Careful conditioning and conveying - Clumps, moisture, irregular particle sizes and poor flowability of powders can cause significant quality issues in 3D printed parts. Automated conveying systems must be able to convey, screen and mix powders quickly and gently without generating excessive heat or other mechanical stresses.
- Precise feeding - The feeding units must ensure an even and continuous flow of material into the 3D printer without segregation.
- Safety assurances - ATEX compliant design is required for handling explosive plastic or metal powders. An airtight, dust-free system is required to protect operators from toxic dust emissions that can be easily inhaled.
- Reliable storage - To prevent degradation, materials must be protected from oxidation and humidity during storage. Dust-free storage and unloading mechanisms improve resource efficiency.
- Effective overflow recovery - To reduce waste and costs, unmelted powder left over after printing can be recovered and conditioned for reuse.