Nedcam has a 3D printer that is unique to the Netherlands. Using this will prevent the waste of materials that are not recyclable and take the next step of sustainability within its organization and in the market.
With the 3D printer, unprecedented new possibilities can be opened up and even more solutions can be offered for making composite molds.
With this AM Flexbot 3D printer from CEAD, we have recently started realizing 3D models from fully recyclable or already recycled thermoplastics. It is the first step in a development in which we also want to produce (larger) models, plugs and moulds (for example for the international yacht building, wind industry, architects, construction and infra sector) sustainably. Nedcam is fulfilling a pioneering role in this together with leading parties in the composites industry.
Thermoplastics vs thermosets
In the current situation, Nedcam produces plugs and molds mainly from wood, EPS (Styrofoam), laminate, epoxy paste or glass fiber reinforced composite, also called thermosets. Thermosets become irreversibly hard when used. Plugs milled from thermosets are used once, molds during one product (series). Then they end up in the trash. A situation that calls for a sustainable solution.
Unlike thermosets, thermoplastics are reusable. Thermoplastics first take on a melting form when heated. This makes them deformable again and suitable for reuse or a new application, for example for 3D printing, possibly combined with CNC milling.
Circularly produced models, plugs and jigs
Produced plugs are used once, produced molds during one product series.
3D printing with thermoplastics offers the solution for this. Models, plugs and molds printed with recyclable/recycled thermoplastics and any milling waste are processed after use into granules that again serve as a raw material for new thermoplastics.
It is Nedcam’s mission as a market leader in plugs, molds and shaping technology to eventually replace the current production technique with this technology and thus to set up the entire chain, from raw material, product design to end product, in a circular way with 100% recyclable and/or bio-based materials.
Thermoplastics are difficult to categorize, but there are two recognized categories: amorphous and semi-crystalline thermoplastics. Both categories bring unique opportunities to rapidly produce innovative ideas through BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing). These ideas can be applied in the variety of markets Nedcam is in.