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Nexa3D SLS Increases Productivity with Separating 3D Printing and Cooling

Auto Tech Outlook | Monday, February 08, 2021

Nexa3D's QLS 350 separates 3D printing and cooling, increasing uptime.

FREMONT, CA: From a fundamental interior element to a dashboard or even an entire car scale model, designers in the automotive industry may swiftly construct a prototype using 3D printing. Using rapid prototyping, businesses can quickly turn concepts into tangible examples of working in practice. Nexa3D's QLS 350 selective laser sintering (SLS) system is set for pre-launch. The QLS 350 thermoplastic 3D printer offers significant cost advantages over traditional methods and unmatched production capacity and flexibility, enabling users to bring additive manufacturing (AM) to the production floor on a large scale.

“We wanted to address the problems associated with traditional SLS systems, such as lack of modularity and flexibility. This includes the biggest bottleneck caused by these systems—the need to print and cool parts in the same machine,” explains KubaGraczyk, Head of QLS Business at Nexa3D. “The made to measure, exchangeable unit in the QLS 350 removes this bottleneck, enabling manufacturers to continue operations while a part cools, a big step forward for SLS systems.”

Nexa3D designed the QLS 350 with speed and throughput in mind, reaching eight liters per hour at a 20 percent work density—the highest in its class. The QLS 350's innovative light engine architecture, consisting of four 100W CO2 lasers, enables users to print at up to four times the speed of typical laser sintering technologies, elevating thermoplastic 3D printing to a new level. Additionally, the QLS 350 includes exchangeable build units that enable operators to continue production. At the same time, previous parts cool inside the exchangeable build unit, allowing users to achieve the high speeds required for manufacturing.

The QLS 350 provides an alternative to traditional injection molding for polymer-based production. The platform is compatible with typical materials such as PA11 and PA12—which are direct replacements for injection molding grade materials—and higher-temperature materials such as PA6, which can be processed up to 240 degrees Celsius.

The QLS 350's software has a key performance indicator (KPI) dashboard that helps users track key performance indicators such as machine uptime, build success rate, and several components produced. The software is designed to operate in a cluster with numerous printers and units, allowing users to boost productivity by utilizing several units for an integrated operation and monitoring each machine's performance.

“Additive manufacturing is still fairly new to the production floor, meaning that customers are often concerned that the equipment will not deliver consistent quality—this is now a worry of the past. The QLS 350 is easy for users to operate continuously, while benefiting from software that provides real-time data on the parameters influencing part quality. We’ve developed a system that could change how industry uses additive manufacturing in serial production. We have also taken steps to automate the manual process of changing units, for example by using autonomous guided vehicles that can transport and dock at each unit to streamline the process,” concludes Graczyk.

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