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EMO 2023: 3D printing innovations enable new applications, save material

12 Sep 2023

Users of the Trumpf development can print components with overhangs to 15 degrees without support.

Engineering and laser company Trumpf has announced improvements to its 3D printing software TruTops Print. Users can now print parts with extreme overhang angles as low as 15 degrees without requiring support structures. The new technology will be showcased at EMO 2023, a production technology trade fair, which will be taking place in Hannover, Germany, between September 18 to 23.

“The latest version of TruTops Print software eliminates the need for virtually all support materials, which ultimately means quicker builds and lower material consumption,” commented Lukas Gebhard, process development engineer for additive manufacturing at toolcraft. “Support-free printing gets parts close to their final shape. It opens the door to parts and projects that were previously impossible, such as the near-net-shape manufacturing of large-diameter internal cooling channels.”

In the past, users had to print support structures together with the part in order to anchor the part to the build platform. These structures also serve to dissipate heat from the printed part and prevent internal tensions and deformations during printing.

Trumpf says its new technology means that many 3D printing applications can now be carried out without supports, even when tackling hard-to-process materials such as stainless steel.

New 3D strategies

Timo Degen, product manager for additive manufacturing at Trumpf, said, “When we 3D print a part, we want as much control as possible over when and where the material melts and re-solidifies. The skill lies in choosing the right exposure strategies to prevent internal tensions and overheating in the overhang region.”

TruTops Print enables the 3D printer to use the optimum printing strategy for each different area of the part, thus eliminating the need for support structures. At the same time, the improved gas flow of TRUMPF’s new 3D printers caters to uniform processing conditions and support-free printing.

“Users from any industry can benefit from the ability to 3D print parts without supports. The advantages of support-free printing are particularly appealing for parts that feature large cavities or challenging overhangs,” said Degen. Examples include tanks, heat exchangers, hydraulic blocks and tool molds.

The new technology also opens up new applications that couldn’t be properly exploited when support structures were still necessary, including areas such as additively manufactured radial compressors and shrouded impellers. Previously, manufacturers were unable to print support-free impellers due to their overhang angles. “The need for supports meant that 3D printing wasn’t an economically viable alternative to conventional manufacturing. But now things are different,” said Degen.

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