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Stratasys, Arburg, Covestro Showing Off Their 3D Printing at K 2016

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Covestro is presenting its latest materials and technologies at the K 2016 – the largest plastic industry shows in the world – ranging from an electric car to 3D-printed surfaces for shoes to rotor blades for wind power systems. Covestro will be exhibiting athletic shoe uppers. What is special about them is that they come straight off a 3D printer, printed by means of fused filament fabrication from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), a plastic made with materials from Covestro.

The upper of the running shoe on display is custom-designed and simultaneously reinforces the fabric of the shoe, enabling it to be laced up. Another exhibit is a soccer shoe upper, which reinforces this special-purpose footwear in those spots subject to the greatest stress.

The new upper is unique because it supports the trend towards personalized athletic shoes. Theoretically, it could even be printed right in a store when a shoe is purchased. Fabrication can be automated, and is therefore efficient.

Thanks to 3D printing, manufacturers can respond quickly to fashion trends – an important advantage considering that the most common method used at present to apply such a coating is screen printing. In this process, a template is used to apply numerous coats until the surface is as desired. A screen printing mold must first be produced for this purpose, which cannot be customized further once made, however. In other words, only one style of shoe can be produced with one mold.

StockFoto_Shoes_1800x1200Personalized uppers with fused filament fabrication
In contrast, digitally printing functional layers on shoe surfaces with TPU supports custom designs: Every single shoe theoretically can be different. No mold needs to be made. Instead, the TPU is deposited on the shoe upper (i.e. textile or leather) in one or two layers via the thin extrusion nozzle of a 3D printer by means of fused filament fabrication.

Developed by Covestro researchers, the material can be optimally adapted to customer needs. Individuality, design freedom, fast and reliable technology, reduction in energy consumption and costs: 3D printing can offer all these advantages in a variety of industries. Covestro supports this trend by developing high-performance materials.

Arburg’s Freeformer running non-stop
At the Arburg’s K 2016 booth the Freeformer 3D printer, one of three present at the show,  has been running continuously, night and day, during the show to make a model press that has more than 30 parts. Once the part is finished on the last day of K 2016, and the support material is washed out, the mechanism will be fully functional with moving parts.

arburg_37326_freeformer“The reason that we do that is to show the reliability and the precision of the Freeformer, that we are able to run continuously for 200 hours,” said Gerhard Böhm, Arburg’s managing director of sales. “It shows that also parts are able to be done where you need a long building period.”

K 2016 also marks Arburg’s move to larger tonnage, as the company unveiled its hybrid Allrounder 1120 H, in a manufacturing cell molding and assembling a step stool in Arburg green.

Stratasys showing the way to 3D printing
Hardly any technology is attracting as much attention today as additive manufacturing. K 2016 offered comprehensive chances to obtain information on the opportunities and limitations of additive manufacturing.

The 3D fab+print touchpoint in Hall 4 was the central information stand on this topic. It is a cooperative effort manned by personnel from Messe Düsseldorf and its partner KCI Publishing BV, a leading scientific, communications and information enterprise from the Netherlands. Visitors will be invited to attend in-depth presentations and discussions on the topic which will be held at two half-day conferences on Thursday, 20 October and Tuesday, 25 October, both from 9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

The 3D fab+print Morning Summits focus on both material developments and different additive manufacturing processes, addressing best practices, application scenarios, market potential and costs. Contributions from leading manufacturers such as Stratasys, Arburg, Proto Labs and EnvisionTec and experts from the scientific and research communities will ensure that every aspect is discussed with the competence it deserves. The opening day of K 2016 on 19 October, a topical day dedicated to Industry 4.0, will also see a short presentation in the context of the “Plastics shape the future” Special Show on the subject of “Additive manufacturing for the individualisation of serial products”.


The FabBus “Wolfgang” will be offering visitors the chance to view, touch and try out additive manufacturing on every trade fair day in front of Hall 3. The former Berlin double-decker bus was converted into a mobile laboratory as part of an EU sponsorship project at the GoetheLab of the FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences. It brings the latest scientific findings in the area of additive manufacturing from the laboratory straight to the trade fair venue, helping visitors to understand and experience this technology directly. The lower deck of the FabBus contains a showroom with exhibits and components from all previous additive manufacturing processes. Visitors to the upper deck can design their own objects in eight workstations, each with its own CAD computer and 3D printer. These objects can then be 3-dimensionally printed and taken home.


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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.
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