After unveiling its QLS350 3D printer for the first time in May 2019, California-based AM company NXT Factory has announced the commercial release of its Quantum Laser Sintering (QLS) platform. In addition to the commercial launch, the company has also announced a strategic collaboration with materials company Evonik, through which it will expand the material offering and production applications for the QLS350 system.
A lights-out solution
NXT Factory’s QLS350 3D printer is based on its proprietary process, which uses multi-laser printing and an autonomous print chamber to achieve lights-out thermoplastic 3D printing. The technology is also capable of operating at a higher temperature than many other sintering-based printers, enabling the use of a wider range of polyamide powders, including PA12 and PA6-6.According to NXT Factory, the combination of its automation, lights out capabilities and material compatibility made the QLS350 a viable SLS solution for serial production.
The 3D printer also integrates a detachable print chamber, which is mounted onto an autonomous guided vehicle. This unique feature allows the print chamber to be detached after the sintering process so that cooling and powder management are undertaken outside of the printer, resulting in better productivity and asset use.
“We are proud to commercially launch our QLS350 Additive Factory at Formnext and usher in a new category of digital manufacturing,” said Kuba Graczyk, CEO of NXT Factory. “We are deeply committed to helping our customers address their diverse manufacturing needs by being the first to deliver a fully automated high-speed, lights-out industrial system that is powered by our material alliances with Evonik, the recognized pioneer and leader in this field.”
Materials on the horizon
To support the use of new materials for the QLS350 3D printer, NXT Factory is deepening its partnership with Evonik in order to integrate its existing portfolio of ready-to-use materials and to develop new, custom materials for specific production applications. According to the partners, they are currently preparing the release of a high-temperature powder, PA613, early next year.
“The new technology of NXT Factory offers further possibilities for our polymer formulations and is a perfect fit for our ready-to-use materials as well as for strategic material development,” said Thomas Große-Puppendahl, Head of the additive manufacturing innovation and growth at Evonik. “It is our goal to provide new material systems in cooperation with customers and partners in order to further diversify the market for 3D printing materials and drive it towards serial production.”
Customer experience center
In other news, NXT Factory also revealed that it is working on its first customer experience center based on its Additive Manufacturing Cluster (AMC) at the XponentialWorks campus in Ventura, CA. The cluster will be equipped with three QLS350 3D printers and seven autonomous print chambers, as well as automated powder handling and management systems.
The AMC will facilitate the adoption of NXT Factory’s QLS technology throughout the production workflow—from design to production. The facility will also function as the company’s training center for resellers, customers and field engineers.