Manufacturing

New Benchmarks in Multimaterial 3D Printing

Wacker’s new K2 printer features numerous technical improvements, allowing scientists to print with up to four different silicone-based materials at once.

Image Source: Wacker Chemie AG

After Israeli scientists attracted worldwide interest by engineering a heart that matches the cellular and anatomical properties of the patient, the chemical group, Wacker, announced new benchmarks in the field of multimedia printing at the K2019 fair with a 3D silicone model of a human liver. The Munich-based company will unveil a newly developed version of its 3D printing technology at the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf, Germany.

At the previous K show, the Wacker introduced its first 3D printer for silicone elastomers. Since then, the company has continued advancing this technology. With multiple printing nozzles, their newest printer can now process up to 4 different silicone materials and print 3D objects in different colors, using materials with varying degrees of hardness. The new technology can also print hollow objects, a previously difficult task that requires support material.

Such multimaterial printed objects are increasingly finding applications in a number of different industries, in particular healthcare. The ability of 3D printers to print realistic models of organs, tumors, or diseased blood vessels allows surgeons to practice for operations and anticipate any possible complications.

An additional feature of Wacker’s new 3D printing technology includes advances in software i.e.., a new auto control technology, which measures the silicone layer applied after each printed layer and compares it with a specified target value. This means that as soon as the program detects any discrepancies in the printed object, they are automatically corrected in the next layers. With this form of in-line checking and correction, the group pledges to produces more precise and detailed 3D objects.

This technology is pushing the frontier, finding application in previously unattainable or difficult industrial applications.

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