One of the greatest achievements was completed in the manufacturing world back in 2014. The process to handle basic plastics resins was improved by using additive manufacturing. Since that moment the time to get a project done was never be the same again. The man behind the new tech is called Neil Hopkinson from the U.K. He named the new manufacturing method High-Speed Sintering. He took notice of one of the most significant issues regarding the traditional methods established up to that moment and put his mind into finding a fix.
New Tech, Faster Overturns
The big secret behind HSS is the use of inkjet printing technology along infra-red heating beams instead of conventional heat lasers. He also changed the way scanning procedure was made, choosing to use scanning mirrors just as the one used in high-end selective laser sintering projects but with increased performance specs. Back in the day, SLS lasers had to work with the 3D model and do the scan back and forward until it was completed. The process was incredibly time consuming, and it became harder if the part being manufactured had multiple components.
The Creation of New Parts
HSS makes the infrared absorbing ink lay a sheet of powder resins to make the lamp use the energy and transfer the components creating a single layer as it’s absorbed. Since the plastic ink can melt the plastic particles so easy, a new layer can be placed on top of it immediately. The process will repeat itself until a 3D structure is finally formed. Although the process does sound complicated, it happens in a matter of seconds. The first printers created by Hopkinson to apply the patent could build small parts in 10 minutes, with the average layer formed on each project on 20-second periods.
HSS currently is well positioned in the market but is still an expensive manufacturing method because the patent holder has kept his secrets open only to the highest bidders. Even with that little bump in the road, many analysts of the industry are coming forward to assure naysayers that HSS can effectively replace plastic molding in the 3D printing industry. Being able to create a product quickly is one of the most sought-after qualities in this field and HSS can deliver that at rates that have been unheard of, especially with small production runs.
The Material Being Used
According to Hopkinson when HSS started, they were only able to work with nylon and variations of it. These days the tech can work with most of the popular polymers found in the market. Most of the details are kept in the background for the sake of trade secrecy, but given the amount of business that Hopkinson gets, it’s safe to say that the limits are decreasing for HSS at fast rates. The sizes of the projects have also increased at least four to five times the original measures achieved on the first try: 145mm x 45 mm x 80 mm. Now they can go as high as 300mm x 250mm x 300mm and beyond!