DyeMansion, a Germany-based leader in surface finishing solutions for 3D printed plastic parts, has revealed the first details about its upcoming Powerfuse S system. The new post-processing platform, which will be officially unveiled at Formnext 2019 in Frankfurt, is reportedly the first system that uses clean vapour technology to finish plastic 3D printed parts.
Here’s what we know about the Powerfuse S system so far. First, it is based on DyeMansion’s VaporFuse Surfacing (VFS) technology, a closed-loop, automated process that is capable of achieving smooth, high-gloss surface finishes for parts. Parts treated with the VFS process are also water repellent and easy to clean. According to DyeMansion, the surface quality of a VFS part is comparable to that of injection molded parts.
Dr. Alena Folger, an R&D chemist at DyeMansion, explained the VFS technology, saying: “VaporFuse Surfacing is a chemical process that is based on the minimization of the overall surface energy of the part. During the process, vapor condenses on the surface of the part. After this, the very top surface—let’s say 1 to 2 microns—is dissolved by the solvent and we get a polymer solvent solution. This solution spreads over the surface of the part and the surface is reduced and the surface energy is reduced. After spreading, we remove the solvent by vacuum so the polymer hardens again and we end up with a surface that is shiny.”
Because the VFS process is highly automated, operators are kept out of harm’s way and do not have to directly interact with the technology’s solvent. Further, the solvent used in the Powerfuse S system complies with heath and safety requirements and is approved for food contact.
In terms of materials, DyeMansion’s new VFS technology is compatible not only with hard polymers such as PA11 or PA12 but also flexible materials, like TPU, which are challenging (if not impossible) to finish using mechanical processes. This capability opens up new applications for flexible AM materials.
Lastly, DyeMansion has revealed that its upcoming Powerfuse S finishing platform—and the VFS technology on which it is based—will be integrated into its Print-to-Product Workflow. In this workflow, the VFS process can be implemented as a second (or additional) surfacing option alongside PolyShot Surfacing (PSS) and can be followed by the coloring process.
DyeMansion will officially be presenting the new Powerfuse S system at Formnext 2019 this November. In the meantime, the company is accepting beta tester applications for the new post-processing technology.