Voxeljet has announced a new technology development for its High-Speed Sintering (HSS) process. Calling it “greyscale 3D printing,” the method allows for creating singular parts with variable material properties. Properties such as mechanical strength, elasticity, material density, material weight and even center of gravity. The properties can be individually influenced in different areas of the 3D printed part, without being visible in the component. HSS 3D printing involves applying a thin layer of plastic powder to a heated building platform. An inkjet print head moves across the platform and jets an infrared light-absorbing ink in selected areas of the build. The construction platform is then exposed to infra-red light, allowing the printed areas to absorb the heat. This causes the powder to sinter with the underlying layers. Once the sintering is complete, the build platform is lowered by one layer, and the process repeats itself.
Voxeljet was able to integrate “three-dimensional mechanical properties” into a 3D printed component by altering the greyscale of the HSS process. Up to six different grey levels can be printed into the powder material depending on what material was used. With darker grey tones, more thermal energy can be absorbed by the printed material from the infrared lamp. With this, diverse material properties can be found within a single component. This is another example of how 3D printing could continue to improve for footwear manufacturing.
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