Collaboration inspires innovation. This is the motto under which companies Colossus, known for application-driven large-scale 3D printing, and colorFabb, known for the development of high-quality specialized filaments have formed a new partnership with the goal of bringing LW materials – and specifically lightweight foaming materials – to the FGF market.
Focus across market boundaries
Colossus and colorFabb seem an unlikely combination as they operate in different industries
(respectively FFF vs FGF), but the match was quickly made in their shared vision and drive for
innovation. When it comes to specialized materials for applications, the production landscape for 3D printing is rapidly changing and the aim on both sides is to support customers with specialized
materials for their desired products.
Besides working incessantly on expanding material possibilities, the two companies also share an intense focus on sustainability and are individually working on advanced materials to pave the way towards a more sustainable additive manufacturing industry. Lightweight foaming materials, developed and introduced to the filament market by colorFabb in 2019, have a very novel and leading-edge advantage. The LW PLA is the first material of its kind using active foaming technology to achieve lightweight, low-density parts, or exceptionally high layer heights depending on the parameters used. colorFabb’s LW PLA filament is a highly specialized material and an iconic filament used in various industries from model airplanes and drones to cosplay costumes and attributes.
“The first time we encountered the LW materials range from colorFabb we immediately recognized the
opportunities it would bring to the FGF market,” said Philippe-Daniel Merillet, CEO of Colossus, who explained: “Imagine, taking the principle of printing twice as fast or twice as light applied to large-scale industrial print systems. Printing and alternating these effects with the same pellets, the same machine and even incorporated in the same Gcode. It’s revolutionary. In Print services around the world, the cost is a function of material price + printing time. Higher layer heights allow for reduced print times. It’s like having a 4.5K/h extruder capable of 9k/h and the ability to print only percentages of the normal weight, what’s
not to love? It will change the way people print from this moment onwards.”
The lightweight materials expand based on the energy they absorb. “The amount of energy the filament can absorb during printing depends on the length of the hot-zone and the time it takes for the filament to
pass through the hot-zone. The longer a filament will reside inside the hot-end, the more energy it can
absorb which will increase the amount of expansion. Assuming nozzle size and layer height are fixed,
the main input variables are temperature, speed, and flow to determine the amount of expansion.”
This statement from Ruud Rouleaux, CEO of colorFabb, further explained the potential, which Colossus
recognized for this material in the upcoming FGF market. Having multiple heating zones in FGF
extruders ensures the material can absorb higher amounts of energy and reach full expansion easily.
Playing with all variables known to FGF printers such as a large range of nozzle sizes and layer heights,
multiple temperature zones, pressure settings in both extruder and melt pump as well as various melt
pump flow rates, can achieve results that are unique and revolutionary.
Over the recent year, these two agile and innovative companies worked closely together. Using
colorFabb’s expertise in high-performance polymers and 3D printing filaments and Colossus’s process
knowledge in large-scale extrusion the foaming materials and formulations were tested and adapted
to obtain a stable FGF compound. The first rounds of testing have been completed with very promising
results. Philippe-Daniel mentioned that layer heights of 1cm have already been achieved on an 8mm
nozzle but claims the limits of this material have not yet been reached.
The material will be commercialized through Colossus and is therefore expected to be launched in
combination with the new XS model FGF Printer the company is also introducing to
the market (expected in August). The XS Printer is the first print system developed in partnership with
high-quality WEBER additive extrusion technology. The printer has been specially designed and
optimized to get the most out of this innovative material.