Layer
by layer

3D printing is a hot topic today. For DIY enthusiasts and automakers alike, the possibility of creating almost any type of component with a simple mouse click fires the imagination. More and more industries are discovering this new method of production for themselves. High-performance materials such as VESTOSINT® from Evonik are increasingly making 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing, suitable for series production.

Why use 3D printing?

Today almost every structural component is designed on a computer as a digital model. 3D printing makes it possible to realize these draft versions almost directly by means of a mouse click—without having to first go to the trouble of producing molds or retooling machines. Instead, objects are created right away, layer by layer, in the desired form.

materials

Today almost any material, from ceramics to metal and concrete, can be printed. Even food and living cells have been printed experimentally. The most multifaceted and most frequently used plastic for 3D printing is polyamide. Evonik produces high-performance polyamide 12 in powder form specially for 3D printing under the brand name VESTOSINT®. This material makes it possible to print especially robust components with extremely fine details.

What is changed by 3D printing?

Printing components layer by layer—the process sounds simple, but it has the potential to turn entire industries upside down. 3D printing makes the production of individual objects or small batches less expensive than ever before. The cost advantage of mass production, which is virtually the basic principle of industrialization, is shrinking—even though this shrinkage has been minimal so far. 3D printing is still relatively time-consuming and labor-intensive. Nonetheless, its possible effects—now and in the future—are immense.

Prototypes

... can be quickly and easily created, tested, modified, and reprinted.
Evonik Rasierer

Single items

... such as individualized products can be produced inexpensively.
Evonik Schuheinlage

Small batches

... can be produced for special purposes so that there’s no need to rely on standard components.
Evonik Schrauben

Personalization

... is replacing mass production. Whether it’s an athletic shoe or a hand prosthesis, 3D printing makes it possible to customize mass-produced items.
Evonik Roboterarm

New shapes

... that conventional methods can’t produce economically, or produce at all, become possible.
Evonik Formen

Anywhere and at any time

... 3D printing enables the production of replacement parts or components that would otherwise have to be shipped and stored.
Evonik Autokarosserie

Less waste

... results, because no materials have to be milled, drilled or ground, for example.
Evonik Abfall

Areas of application for 3D printing

  • Evonik Luftfahrt
  • Evonik Architektur
  • Evonik Zahntechnik
  • Evonik Automobilbau

Processes

The principle is always the same: A material is laid down layer by layer. In practice, however, a wide variety of processes lead to the same result. One of the most important processes is selective laser sintering (SLS). Here, a powder is melted by means of a laser, layer by layer. This produces very precisely detailed and robust components made of either plastic or metal. The high-performance plastic polyamide 12, which Evonik offers under the brand name VESTOSINT®, is ideally suited for this process. It’s a very popular material, because the components made from it are especially strong. The printer manufacturer HP, which has developed its own 3D printing process called Multi Jet Fusion™, is collaborating closely with Evonik.

Pulverauftrag The powder is applied
Drucken des Fusing Agent The fusing agent is printed
Drucken des Detailing Agent The detailing agent is printed
Energie Energy is applied
Verschmolzen Fused

This new technology combines the advantages of several different printing processes. Additives are spread selectively on a bed of powdered VESTOSINT® plastic. Under the influence of light, the additives either melt the powder or break it up. Next, the entire surface is exposed to light. This produces robust workpieces in a very short time.

Quality

In close cooperation with its customers and partners, Evonik is continuously working to ensure the highest level of product quality. The VESTOSINT® powders go through different quality management programs, such as that of EOS, a global technology leader in the field of additive manufacturing. The polyamide 12 powders are subjected to comprehensive quality assurance and documented.

the market

The market for 3D printing is growing by leaps and bounds. Many industries are still in the initial stages of the 3D printing revolution. Nonetheless, global sales of 3D-printed products are expected to cross the €10 billion threshold for the first time as early as 2018. And sales are expected to continue growing steadily by about 25 percent annually.

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the future

Evonik is continuing to adapt its VESTOSINT® products to more and more new printers and areas of application. As a result, 3D-printed components can be used in increasingly complex applications. New plastics are also being developed. They are enabling 3D-printed engine components to stand up to extreme heat and bioresorbable implants to be used in medicine, for example.

4D printing

The next step of this development is 4D printing. In this process, certain functions are programmed into the material used for 3D printing—for example, to make components that react to heat, moisture or electrical impulses by changing their shape, color or flexibility.