The ExOne Company, North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM), Bremen, Germany, report that they are deepening their partnership on binder and materials development projects, following the success of CleanFuseTM metal binder.
Fraunhofer IFAM and ExOne’s collaboration on metal Binder Jetting (BJT) spans more than two decades, having begun working together in 1998 when ExOne, then part of Extrude Hone, launched the world’s first commercial metal BJT system, the RTS-300. In recent years, they have jointly refined and optimised CleanFuse, an ExOne binder based on a development by Fraunhofer IFAM. The result is a clean-burning binder for optimal Additive Manufacturing of stainless steels and premium metals.
“When we started developing the first binder version on the Innovent, we soon realised we had a major breakthrough,” explained Prof Frank Petzoldt, Deputy Director of Fraunhofer IFAM since 1999. “ExOne was immediately very enthusiastic about our development, because of its exceptional green part strength and clean burnout at low curing temperature. Together with ExOne, we refined the binder, which is now CleanFuse.”
Following this success, Fraunhofer IFAM and ExOne have decided to intensify their cooperation and are currently working on a CleanFuse version for processing reactive materials such as aluminium and titanium.
Rick Lucas, ExOne Chief Technology Officer and VP, New Markets, commented, “At ExOne, we truly believe in the power of collaboration – of bringing together a diversity of experts and knowledge – to solve complex problems in the best possible way. Fraunhofer IFAM has been a leading collaboration partner for us – helping to improve our understanding of binders, different types of powders, and how they work together through the entire process chain from printing to final sintering to deliver a quality part.”
Fraunhofer IFAM has a strong foundation in the development and processing of metallic and polymer materials as well as comprehensive knowledge of AM technologies – especially for sinter-based processes. The institute’s facility in Bremen is fully equipped for sinter-based Additive Manufacturing and offers all technologies for the printing, depowdering, debinding and sintering of metal parts.
For research and development in the field of metal BJT, Fraunhofer IFAM researchers work with a range of ExOne AM machines including the Innovent+ for material and process development. Three of its AM machines feature ExOne’s patented Triple Advanced Compaction Technology (ACT) delivering industry-leading green part density and the institute recently put the X1 25Pro production-speed metal BJT system into operation to investigate pilot and pre-series production.