Multi-nozzle technology for fast 3D printing
The fastest 3D printing in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF/FDDM)
Individual nozzle control through variable parallel extrusion
Through a combination of hardware and software, LIQTRA’s™ multi-nozzle technology enables high-productivity 3D printing. While conventional print heads only use the material output of a single nozzle to print the parts, multi-nozzle technology utilizes up to seven nozzles that operate simultaneously. Since commercially available slicer software only supports 3D printing with single or alternating nozzle applications, process planning for our 3D printers is done with LIQTRA planning software for multi-nozzle technology. Numerical optimization and Artificial Intelligence are used to determine the optimal part orientation, based on which the print head’s individual nozzles are controlled.
Process time reduction of up to 75%.
The patent-pending process enables the simultaneous use of multiple nozzles in 3D printing, even when manufacturing parts with complex shape and contours. The constant use of a central nozzle for producing the outer contour path ensures high part quality, while the surrounding nozzles print the inner contour paths simultaneously. Unlike 3D printing with single nozzle technology (FFF/FDM), the multiplied material discharge does not compromise in production accuracy even with larger nozzle diameters or thicker print layers. Despite the extreme increase in material output, corner radii and layer thicknesses stay unchanged in multi-nozzle technology. As a result, the user is able to produce parts much more quickly. Process time savings of up to 75 percent are achieved.
Increased part strengths through multi-nozzle technology
Increased strength between layers by up to 37%
Simultaneous material discharge from multiple nozzles not only leads to faster 3D printing, but it also incorporates more heat into previously printed material. As a result, the bond between the newly printed material layer and the underlying material is intensified. Using PLA as an example, of 37 % strength increase is observed between consecutive layers when compared to single nozzle printing (FFF/FDM), while strength within the printed layer remains constant.
The right choice for technical parts
It was possible to demonstrate up to 95% of the material strength between the consecutive layers in experimental tests with polypropylene (PP). Corresponding verification for other materials, particularly load-bearing structural parts, will follow, e. g. for PA printing. With nearly isotropic strengths, 3D printing with LIQTRA’s multi-nozzle technology meets up to strengths standards of traditional manufacturing processes and is especially suited for the manufacturing of technical parts such as structural and housing components.
Applications for multi-nozzle technology
Medical devices made of PP
For the first time, individual medical aids (such as orthoses) can be produced overnight in 3D printing using multi-nozzle technology. Furthermore, the multi-nozzle technology achieves almost isotropic part properties for the material, and the material’s typical tendency to warp is reduced. As a result, production experiences less adhesion problems and requires fewer support structures.
Valve nozzle technology for 3D printing with plastic pellets
Targeted material discharge with valve nozzle technology
Maximum precision in processing plastic pellets
The valve nozzle enables the processing of plastic pellets in 3D printing without the usual loss of quality. There are no material threads pulled or imperfections caused by too little or too much material discharged when starting and stopping the extrusion. The use of a valve just before the nozzle outlet enables this feature. The pressure changes at the outlet which are necessary to initiate and stop the material discharge can thus be accomplished reliably and dynamically. Regardless of the material discharge, the valve switching time is less than 20 milliseconds. As a result, even at high printing speeds, the printed part has surface qualities previously unattainable with plastic pellets. Cleaning and post-processing, or, if necessary, repair of the part after printing, are no longer a requirement. Since through pellet-based 3D printing recycling of old plastic parts is enabled, valve nozzle technology paves the path for a sustainable production.
Applications for valve nozzle technology
Series production in 3D printing with plastic pellets
Plastic pellet processing in 3D printing with valve nozzle technology enables cost-effective small-scale production of parts. Because of the high part quality and shortened process times, 3D printing has emerged as a viable alternative for injection molding applications where expensive molds result in high part costs at low volumes (up to 100 parts per year).