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Small Parts with Big Potential

15 May 2006

German based RP service bureau VG Kunststofftechnik is developing new direct manufactured parts from nano-reinforced composite stereolithography materials.

The company uses NanoForm 15120, a composite stereolithography material which incorporates non-crystalline nano-particle technology for enhanced performance properties, including high stiffness and heat resistance. Heat deflection temperatures of more than 500°F (265°C) have been reported.

VG began direct manufacturing with NanoForm as soon as it was commercialized, running the material on their 3D Systems Viper Si2. Their initial focus was on small detailed parts for the electronics, aerospace and medical industries as well as for water-technology specialists such as Hansa and Grohe. Today, having since proven out both the resin’s material properties and ‘break-even’ economics, VG regularly produces up to 200 directly manufactured NanoForm parts for pre-series and limited series production.

“NanoForm offers a unique set of properties which are critical for direct manufacturing,” says VG founder and Managing Director Dr. Volker Griessbach. “Its accuracy, zero hydroscopicity and exceptional surface quality—with practically no ""stair stepping"" effects—deliver the high level of precision and detail which the electronics industry in particular requires, as well as guarantees the dimensional stability of the parts. In addition, NanoForm has a completely water-resistant surface and can withstand temperatures as high as 250°C. That adds up to a number of critical advantages for our clients’ extensive pre-series testing.”

In addition to allowing VG to produce parts with a high degree of geometric complexity and accuracy (typical wall dimensions and drill holes as low as 0.2mm), direct manufacturing with NanoForm has also proven successful in avoiding some of the delays and costs related to the tooling process. In one winter-summer automotive test project for Siemens, VG Kunststofftechik was able to successfully produce 1000 electro-magnetic coils from NanoForm in just one week, enabling Siemens to save approximately €40,000 in tooling costs and allowing their test program to move forward four months ahead of schedule.

“I believe direct manufacturing will go down in history as the third industrial revolution,” says Griessbach. “It is an increasingly proven method for industry to shorten development cycles and meet the growing demand for low-run, custom tailored parts. For VG, combining the right technologies with effective new materials like NanoForm is helping us become a pioneer in direct manufacturing—just as we set out to be with rapid prototyping more than fifteen years ago.”

The image shows prototypes of water filters for Grohe.





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