Fortify has introduced its Continuous Kinetic Mixing (CKM) system for enhanced photopolymer functionality.
The Boston-based company has been focusing on fully functional 3D printing with fortified materials, including an interesting approach to reinforcing those materials. We’ve previously taken a close look at their magnetic 3D printing technology in their Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM) process.
Fluxprint, as they call their magnetic alignment technology, relies on specifically oriented fibers that strategically strengthen the photopolymers used in their DLP 3D printing.
Now with the introduction of CKM, they see even more functionality. Fortify released a video that guides us through some of what they mean here:
Diving beyond the video’s marketing-speak, there’s something really unique here indeed. Fortify targets applications like injection molding that really require strength of part in addition to the flexibility of design that 3D printing offers. The company explains:
“Fiber and particle additives have been used to enhance polymer performance and functionality in the injection molding industry for decades. Fortify is the first company to implement these reinforcing techniques with 3D printed photopolymers. CKM ensures that additives stay uniformly distributed throughout the material while mitigating sedimentation and aggregation. This system allows for the manufacturing of a new class of functional materials.”
CKM is described as a “material handling module” — perhaps one of many modules to come into play in the Fluxprint process? It will be interesting indeed to see how they might incorporate a modular approach into their 3D printers, and what other modules might arise.
Speaking of their 3D printers, the machines themselves will soon start to hit the market. Selectively, of course. Until now, Fortify has provided parts as a service from its own in-house 3D printers. This summer, the systems are set to begin shipping to “select partner locations” to allow for new installations at customer sites.
These customers then will have more direct control over their use. Applications to date have included use in injection molding — recently expanded to metal injection molding, using ceramic fibers blended in with the resin — as well as electrical and communications industry usage.
Additives incorporated via the CKM process “enhance mechanical performance (strength, stiffness, toughness, wear, and heat deflection temperature) as well as thermal and electrical properties,” Fortify explains. Adjusting such properties has long been key to traditional manufacturing with established high-performance polymers; through this platform, 3D printing with photopolymers can bring these in-demand qualities to more geometries.
Combining the strengths of traditional manufacturing with the flexibility of 3D printing has long been a grail in this industry, as additive manufacturing seeks to introduce new capabilities to established processes. Quality is critical when it comes to manufacturing.
We’ll be speaking soon to the Fortify team to get more of a look at what the CKM process is bringing to the table.