3D printer: Leading manufacturer opts for ZwickRoell testing solution

Industrial 3D printers must meet the highest demands. They create components and geometries that would not be possible with other manufacturing methods. In order to explore the unique qualitative features and improve printers and printing methods, a leading manufacturer opted for a testing machine from ZwickRoell. Printed specimens are "put to the acid test" with ZwickRoell testing machines from Ulm, Germany. Undergoing this rigorous testing is key to determining characteristic values for printed materials and evaluating the quality of various printing methods and printers.
Nowadays, everyone is talking about 3D printing. Private persons are taking the first steps in their own homes and are testing out the new technology in a diverse number of projects. Meanwhile, several industry branches are discovering more ways to implement professional 3D printing. While both technically-oriented private persons as well as product engineers are enthusiastic about this technology, this is where the similarities between these two groups end. In contrast to their smaller and considerably simpler counterparts found in the basement hobby room, industrial 3D printers are in the position to create durable, fully functional components, and even complete products. The manufacturer offers various models for industrial use.

Additive manufacturing methods have made significant advances in recent years. Plastics and metals can now be processed in qualities that were unheard of just a few years ago. Suitable printing methods and the processing of various materials allow 3D-printed components to constantly be used in new fields. At the same time, use in the rapid prototyping discipline, that is the rapid manufacture of individual components or small batch series for research, is declining and moving to the discipline of "rapid manufacturing" - the direct production of components for products found on the market. This in turn changes the demands placed on the printed components. While sometimes only a certain feature such as the correct fit is important for prototypes and other characteristics can be disregarded, industrially used components must be durable and often visually pleasing as well.

To obtain characteristic values for product quality and important information for the advancement of todays printing methods, the manufacturer equipped its testing laboratory in Spain with a testing machine from ZwickRoell. Various tests are performed on printed specimens whose results provide information about the suitability of components and printing methods for specific fields. Testing machines from ZwickRoell, such as the extended 50 kN AllroundLine table-top machine with MultiXtens are used for tensile, compression, and flexure tests on plastics. Combined with a temperature chamber and testXpert III software, the testing system delivers accuracy and versatility.

Using the obtained values the printed material can be objectively evaluated from tensile tests, e.g., tensile stress, strain, tensile modulus, yield and failure point. The data is interesting in two respects in this case. Not only is the material itself tested, but the printer that created the specimen is also tested. Thanks to the high accuracy and resolution of the testing machine and the MultiXtens extensometer, minor changes are also recorded reliably, which is essential for fine tuning the printer.

With the temperature chamber, measurements can be performed under different environmental conditions, from -80°C to +250°C. A sophisticated air-feed system ensures uniform heat distribution and precision control guarantees stable temperatures without overshooting. Thanks to preconfigured control parameters the required temperature is attained quickly. In conjunction with the ZwickRoell System Configuration Builder, specimen-specific control parameters can easily be loaded with the test program. Deviation from the preset is only +/- 1 °C. All system functions can be controlled via ZwickRoell testing software. The control layout adapts to the test sequence and provides direct feedback to the user. Plus, the modular design allows the chamber to be easily customized according to requirements.

For testing plastics, ZwickRoell not only has universal testing machines for tensile, compression, and flexure testing, they also have a comprehensive range of additional machines and testing arrangements for measurement. Creep tests can also be performed, such as for determining heat deflection temperature and the Vicat softening temperature. Impact tests with pendulum impact testers, high-speed tensile tests, and puncture tests are also typical tests performed on plastic specimens. This allows all the important values for material characterization to be determined.