LEHVOSS Group leads Innovate UK undertaking for overprinting high-performance polymers

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The materials specialist LEHVOSS Group is leading a new Innovate UK project to identify, develop and optimize materials and processes for overprinting organic sheets and other components.

Throughout the project, the company will lead a consortium made up of the University of Exeter, polymer specialist Victrex, 3D printing service provider FDM Digital Solutions, harness specialist Q5D Technology, and topology optimization software company GRM Consulting.

The aim of the project is to develop new material combinations and improved processes for overprinting in industries such as automotive, aerospace, medicine and defense as well as to develop new applications, hardware and software for the technology.

“Additive manufacturing is already established in series applications,” says Dr. Thiago Medeiros Araujo, Global Product Management of LUVOCOM 3F filaments of the LEHVOSS Group and head of the project. “This project aims to expand its application and offer a suitable alternative to overmolding, which can be very costly and time consuming.

“We are very pleased to lead this project together with our extremely competent and experienced consortium partners.”

LUVOCOM 3F filament. Photo via LEHVOSS.

Overprinting with high performance polymers (OverHIPP)

Overprinting is a technique of designing parts from multiple materials when different materials are needed in different components of a part. Typically a print is started and then paused in the middle, which allows components to be embedded in the 3D print job. Then the printing process is resumed and 3D printing is made possible via the embedded components.

Overprinting can be used to develop more integrated products, e.g. B. embedding electronic components in a 3D printed part or when two materials are required for the same component due to their respective material properties.

Innovate UK’s OverHIPP project aims to expand overprinting capabilities by developing new material combinations and improved processes, as well as discovering new applications for the technology, particularly electronic components, sensors, structural components, and medical instruments and supplies.

During the project, which is slated to run until May 2023, the LEHVOSS Group will lead the consortium in the further development of unique hardware for printing high-performance polymers on non-planar surfaces and the development of new software for optimal positioning and alignment of materials and parts during the overprinting process .

The partners will focus on developing and optimizing these materials and processes for overprinting organic sheets and other components, and making demonstrator components suitable for specific industries such as automotive, aerospace, medicine and defense.

A test component made from LUVOCOM 3F PEI.  Photo via LEHVOSS Group.A test component made from LUVOCOM 3F PEI. Photo via LEHVOSS Group.

Development of printing materials for OverHIPP

The LEHVOSS Group comprises a group of companies in the chemical industry that develop, produce and sell chemical and mineral specialties for various customers.

In addition to spearheading the consortium, the LEHVOSS Group will develop and provide the polymeric printing materials for the Innovate UK project, in particular high-performance polymers such as PPS, PEI and PAEK. Based on these and other polymers, the company offers a range of tailor-made materials for the 3D printing processes Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) and Fused Granulate Fabrication (FGF).

In March of last year, the LEHVOSS Group announced a partnership with the High Speed ​​Extrusion (HSE) 3D printer manufacturer Essentium to develop a range of high-performance materials for 3D printing consisting of PEEK and high-temperature nylon (HTN). The materials are specifically designed to meet the standards of high performance applications in the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, biomedical, and electronic manufacturing industries.

Towards the end of the year, the LEHVOSS Group and the 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker jointly received a unique printing process certification from TÜV SÜD for the 3D printing process that combines LEHVOSS ‘LUVOCOM 3F filaments on the S5 Pro Bundle from Ultimaker. The LUVOCOM 3F filament series comprises four different materials, two of which are carbon fiber reinforced. They are based on either PA or PET and are specially formulated for high performance applications.

LUVOCOM 3F test specimen printed on an S5.  Photo via Ultimaker.LUVOCOM 3F test specimen printed on an S5. Photo via Ultimaker.

Further development of 3D printing materials and processes

Innovate UK was founded as an advisory body by the UK government in 2004 and became an independent body in 2007 with the aim of accelerating the development of advanced technologies. In the past year alone, the organization has funded several 3D printing-based projects to accelerate the advancement of technology.

In November 2020, Fixie, a 3D printing service for professionals in the built environment, and Enable Manufacturing, a metal 3D printing service provider, awarded grants to expand their 3D printing activities in their respective sectors as part of their Sustainable Innovation Fund.

The following month, Innovate UK awarded Smart Grants to the University of Cambridge social enterprise and spin-out Blue Tap to support the technical development of its 3D printing-based water purification technology, and to the University of Liverpool’s Meta Additive spin-out, to its proprietary binder jetting technology.

Earlier this year, Innovate UK supported FastWireAM, a new R&D program led by hybrid systems specialist Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT). The project aims to accelerate the development of a new compact wire feed system for laser-based 3D printing.

Most recently, post-processing specialist Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) received a £ 97,000 grant from Innovate UK to develop a new organic solvent for post-processing thermoplastic elastomer materials such as TPU.

Fixie has secured a £ 100,000 grant to help make 3D printing an accessible tool for architects.  Image via fixie.Fixie has secured a £ 100,000 grant to help make 3D printing an accessible tool for architects. Image via fixie.

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The picture shown shows the LUVOCOM 3F filament. Photo via LEHVOSS.