Focus on application-specific materials
Farsoon Technologies first introduced Flight® Technology or Fiber Light® Technology in 2019, delivering industry-leading production rates with plastic powder laser melting. In 2021, the configuration Dual-Laser of the Flight® 403P system has been announced with even higher productivity. Since then, many Farsoon customers have taken advantage of powerful fiber lasers for volume production of high-quality end-use parts. Featuring an open materials platform, the Flight® HT403P system from Sofos Robotics Co. (referred to as Sofos Robotics) enables a number of industrial projects, from prototyping to mass production, using a diverse range of application-specific engineering materials. Jason Rodrigueza marketer from Farsoon Americas Corp, interviewed the president of Sofos Robotics, John Huster, to find out how they use Flight® technology. Here’s what we learned.
Rodriguez: Can you share the story of additive manufacturing at Sofos?
Huster : Sofos Robotics began as a provider of automation and robotic integration services to maximize industrial manufacturing efficiency. We got into additive manufacturing to improve the components we needed for automation cells, like custom brackets and mounting plates, part nests, and gripper fingers.
We started with a few FDM machines and started printing components for ourselves and a handful of customers. At first, we focused on prototyping and small series. As our business grew, we got to the point where we knew FDM wouldn’t be able to produce the amount of parts we needed fast enough. We started looking at other technologies and settled on the Farsoon Flight® machine because of its speed and flexibility.
We see additive manufacturing as a technology with great potential. We intend to continue to grow our business by finding new markets and helping our customers solve their problems.
Rodriguez: Why did Sofos Robotics choose Farsoon and Flight® Technology?
Huster : We started in additive technology, like many others, using FDM 3D printers. We had a few customers that we were doing prototype parts for, and they started asking us what our production capabilities were. We saw an opportunity to grow and started investigating different 3D printing technologies. We went with the Farsoon Flight® HT403P because of its large build volume, incredibly fast speeds, and open platform of materials and settings. We also liked that Farsoon had fewer consumables and more cost-effective service packages than some of the other machines we reviewed.
Rodriguez: Can you share a specific application story with additive manufacturing at Sofos?
Huster : One of our customers entrusted us with the production of a customized and ESD safe nylon protector. For this part, due to the environment, we had to use an ESD safe material. Before using additive manufacturing, the guards were made of stainless steel and the two halves were welded together. Customers wanted a new one-piece solution to reduce the failure rate. By using the Farsoon Flight® machine and an ESD nylon material from BASF, we were able to provide them with a structurally integrated solution at a lower cost and in a shorter time frame. Before we had the Farsoon machine, it took one of our FDM machines 12 hours to print protection. We are now able to print 12 protectors plus a full set of accompanying media in the same amount of time.
Rodriguez: We know that many projects at Sofos use specific engineering materials. What is your experience with Farsoon’s open materials/parameters platform?
Huster : This was one of the main selling points when we researched which machine to buy. We really liked the idea of an open materials platform and the ability to source materials from different manufacturers to find the right solutions for our customers. We receive a wide variety of requests from our customers and being able to use materials from different suppliers has been very useful to us on several occasions.
The open parameters platform is great! It allows us to quickly adapt a new material in one or two constructions. It’s nice to be able to control so many parameters like operating temperature, laser power, scan distance, etc. The open platform allows us to assign different parameters to each piece of the build and test multiple combinations to find the perfect recipe. We can also add or remove parts while the machine is printing. All this is very useful when we try a new material for the first time.
Rodriguez: We know that Sofos has successfully tested a few BASF materials. Can you share with us other test results, and if there is a targeted industry?
Huster : We had an excellent experience with BASF. They have a wide selection of materials and corresponding part parameters. We currently use their mineral filled PA11 ESD, TPU and PA6 materials. The materials have proven themselves in testing and in the field and we look forward to using more of their products in the future.
Some projects we work on with TPU are custom suction cups and protections for pendulum controllers. We are having a lot of fun with this material and look forward to more applications with it.
Rodriguez: Can you share your experience working with Farsoon and the Flight® 403P machine?
Huster : We had a great experience working with Farsoon, they were very helpful throughout the process and continue to support us with any questions we have.
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