The ExOne Company (Nasdaq: XONE) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) are deepening their partnership on binder and materials development projects following the success of CleanFuse metal binder.
Fraunhofer IFAM’s relationship with ExOne on metal binder jetting development spans more than two decades. They have been working together since about 1998, when ExOne, then part of Extrude Hone, launched the world’s first commercial metal binder jetting system, the RTS-300. In recent years, they have jointly refined and optimized CleanFuse, an ExOne binder based on a development by Fraunhofer IFAM. The result is a clean-burning binder for optimal 3D printing of stainless steels and premium metals.
“When we started developing the first binder version on the Innovent, we soon realized we had a major breakthrough. ExOne was immediately very enthusiastic about our development, because of its exceptional green part strength and clean burnout at low curing temperature. Together with ExOne, we refined the binder, which is now CleanFuse,” says Prof. Frank Petzoldt, Deputy Director of Fraunhofer IFAM since 1999.
Following this success, Fraunhofer IFAM and ExOne have decided to intensify their cooperation and are currently working on a CleanFuse version for processing reactive materials such as aluminum and titanium.
“At ExOne, we truly believe in the power of collaboration – of bringing together a diversity of experts and knowledge – to solve complex problems in the best possible way,” said Rick Lucas, ExOne Chief Technology Officer and VP, New Markets. “Fraunhofer IFAM has been a leading collaboration partner for us – helping to improve our understanding of binders, different types of powders, and how they work together through the entire process chain from printing to final sintering to deliver a quality part.”
Fraunhofer IFAM has a strong foundation in the development and processing of metallic and polymer materials as well as comprehensive knowledge of additive manufacturing technologies – especially for sinter-based processes. The institute’s location in Bremen is fully equipped for sinter-based additive manufacturing and offers all technologies for the printing, depowdering, debinding and sintering of metal parts. The researchers have special know-how around metal powders, binders and their interaction.
For research and development in the field of metal binder jetting, they work with a range of ExOne printers starting with the Innovent+ for material and process development. Three printers feature ExOne’s patented Triple Advanced Compaction Technology (ACT) delivering industry-leading green part density. Recently, the institute has put the X1 25Pro® production-speed metal binder jetting system into operation in order to investigate feasibility in context of pilot and pre-series production. Manufacturers interested in metal binder jetting are welcome to schedule a visit to Fraunhofer IFAM Bremen to learn more about the technology and the application possibilities in their fields.