The APF process

ARBURG Plastic Freeforming (APF) and the freeformer

We developed the ARBURG Plastic Freeforming (APF) process and the freeformer very specifically as an open system. The manufacturing process can be custom configured to meet individual requirements by adjusting slicing, droplet size and process control to influence the layer-by-layer build process.

This is how we make it possible for you to customise the properties of your additively manufactured components. Qualified standard granulates like those used in injection moulding and your own qualified materials can be processed on the freeformer without restrictions.

Highlights

  • High-end control with multi touch screen in industrial PC technology
  • Intuitive user interface and automated slicing software for data processing including remotely away from the freeformer
  • Use of original materials, e.g. with regard to ageing resistance or FDA approval, no expensive special materials
  • Processing of specific material compounds
  • Combination of materials and colours – including resilient hard/soft combinations, efficient use of materials
  • Process without emissions or residues – no active extraction required
  • High part quality – part optimisation based on the tiniest droplets
  • Water-soluble support materials can be used
  • Advice from experienced ARBURG application specialists and support from a professional and dense service network

freeformer 200-3X and 300-3X

The various freeformer models and equipment stages differ in the number of discharge units, the size of the build chamber and the options they support for manufacturing multi-component parts with and without support structures, automation and integration into turnkey projects and the axis movements of the part carriers. All freeformers have one thing in common: they open up endless possibilities in industrial additive manufacturing with the qualified standard granulates you are familiar with and without expensive special materials.

freeformer 200-3X
Our first freeformer as a standard system with two discharge units and a part carrier with three axes of motion. This system variant can manufacture components with complex geometries from two materials and/or support structures with ease.

freeformer 300-3X
For anyone who needs more space inside the build chamber for larger components. With up to three discharge units and a build chamber that is 50% larger for more scope for customisation and improved functionality. Here too, the part carrier works with three axes of motion that move in combination for greater freedom in the design and dimensioning of parts.

Technology outlook

We are working unceasingly on the continuous improvement of the technology behind our freeformers and thus also the technology behind the APF process. Our work focuses primarily on extending the use of our systems and enabling our freeformers to be automated and integrated into IT networks. This includes not only the integration of injection moulding processes but also the automation of manufacturing workflows in industrial additive manufacturing.

Production cell with fully automated freeformer
Showcasing its AM Factory at the Hanover Fair in 2019, ARBURG demonstrated for the first time how automated freeformers will be capable of the individualised production of serial products in the future in a way that is both cost-effective and can be tracked and traced. The freeformers can be connected to an MES or SCADA system via an OPC UA interface and integrated into networked turnkey systems.

freeformer 300-4X: working with rovings
With the APF process, it will soon also be possible to additively manufacture resilient functional components with local fibre reinforcement. The new freeformer 300-4X with a four-axis part carrier also has three discharge units but features the addition of a new rotary axis and a fibre feed unit. This means that it is capable of working with glass or carbon rovings fed in externally for targeted component reinforcement.