Trumpf unveils support-free 3D printing to cut material waste
Trumpf’s support-free 3D printing (Image: Trumpf)
Laser manufacturer Trumpf is set to showcase the latest improvements to its 3D printing software ‘TruTops Print’ at the upcoming EMO 2023 production technology conference taking place in Hannover, Germany from 18-23 September.
Traditionally, 3D printing technology has relied heavily on support structures to anchor the part to the build platform, dissipate heat, and prevent internal tensions and deformations.
However, Trumpf's latest innovation in software eliminates the necessity for these support materials, cutting down the considerable waste created by the need for supports.
Lukas Gebhard, Process Development Engineer for Additive Manufacturing at high-tech manufacturing firm Toolcraft – an existing user of TruTops Print – explains: "The latest version of Trumpf's TruTops Print software eliminates the need for virtually all support materials, which ultimately means quicker builds and lower material consumption.”
A similar support-free innovation was unveiled by SLM Solutions in 2021.
Opening up new possibilities for 3D printing
Support-free printing not only accelerates the printing process, but also allows parts to closely approximate their final shape. This development opens doors to previously impossible projects, such as the near-net-shape manufacturing of large-diameter internal cooling channels.
Timo Degen, Product manager for Additive Manufacturing at Trumpf, emphasises the importance of controlling material behaviour during 3D printing: "When we 3D print a part, we want as much control as possible over when and where the material melts and re-solidifies."
TruTops Print achieves this control by tailoring the printing strategy to each part's specific requirements, making extreme overhang angles as low as 15 degrees without the need for support structures. At the same time, Trumpf's new 3D printers feature improved gas flow, supporting uniform processing conditions which further facilitates support-free printing.
New opportunities for application
The advantages of support-free printing extend across various industries, especially for parts with intricate cavities or challenging overhangs.
For example, radial compressors and shrouded impellers feature complex overhang angles, making them difficult to produce more economically using 3D printing compared to standard production methods. "The need for supports meant that 3D printing wasn't an economically viable alternative to conventional manufacturing. But now things are different," confirms Degen. In addition, the support-free technology will benefit the printing of other parts such as tanks, heat exchangers, hydraulic blocks, tool moulds, and more.
Trumpf's support-free technology holds the potential to optimise 3d printing by reducing material waste, enhancing design freedom, and enabling a wide range of industries to embrace the full potential of additive manufacturing.