Rapid manufacturing technologies are characterized by construction through addition or layer by layer to directly manufacture functional parts or pieces from CAD files. Geometry freedom, high resolution, dimensional accuracy with no distortions, use of multiple materials, tooling elimination, building according to the buyer’s liking (customization or individualization) and, consequently, cost reduction, are some of the advantages these processes offer.
Materials usually employed in additive manufacturing technologies, also called Rapid Manufacturing (RM), are completely unknown in spite of the information that each manufacturer provides, which is not complete and is subject to patents. So, there are many research groups devoted to this field, with the objective of modifying and improving the available RM materials and formulations, and also to the development of new materials, completely new for these technologies, including metallic, ceramic and plastic.
AIJU has demonstrated the sintering possibilities of a Polyamide (PA12) based formulation added with a black-colouring additive (figure 1). Sintering parameters have been optimized, as they influence the final properties. Mechanical properties of the blend show an increase in the stiffness and the tensile strength and a decrease in the impact resistance. Nevertheless, improvements in the formulation are required to increase the PA and colouring coupling.
Asunción Martínez, the main AIJU’s coordinator for these projects, states that “the sintering of polyamide with colouring additives could improve the product development in the sense that final products could be achieved using a commonly used material, thus avoiding a process in the sequence of the production and consequently reducing the final cost of the product”.
The authors would like to thank IMPIVA and MICINN for the financial support given in part for this project (Projects IMIDIC/2009/80 y PSE-020000-2009-1).
The Toy Research Institute (AIJU) was founded in June 1985 as a collaboration of the remains of the Spanish Toy Company Association (AEFJ) and the Regional Government (IMPIVA), and is a non-profit making entity whose aim is technological support to enterprises related to the Toy Industry.
AIJU’s main aim is to enable the Toy manufacturers to have access to state-of-the-art technologies. As most of them are SMEs, they cannot individually afford emerging technologies. AIJU has a staff of 75 professional people divided into different areas, all together with the required infrastructure to manage the diverse activities involved.
AIJU has been working on the research of SLS Equipment for 10 years now, studying its use feasibility in the manufacturing of functional prototypes and mould prototypes with the objective of reaching final material sets.
In the standard field, the entity is working on the potential feasibility of the proposed rules as well as new safety criteria for toys, with participation in several proficiency testing schemes both on a National and European Level. Thus, it is participating in the development of new standards concerning organic additives in materials for toys in the European Committee of Normalization (CEN).