Tech centres: Evonik opens 3D printing centre in US; Sumitomo modernises production logistics and training centre

Evonik opens 3D printing centre in US

German chemicals firm Evonik says it is further expanding its business in the area of additive manufacturing by opening a new technology centre for 3D printing in Austin, Texas. The US site, it says, will play a key role in the development of new, ready-to-use materials for powder bed fusion manufactured by the Structured Polymers technology.

In January 2019, Evonik acquired Structured Polymers Inc., a US-based start-up for 3D printing materials, after having invested in the company two years earlier through its venture capital unit. This gave the Group access to a new patented technology with the declared aim of expanding the existing product portfolio of special polymer powders for additive manufacturing. Structured Polymers technology is based on a polymer granulate that is processed into fine powder material in various steps. In this process, polymer powders can be produced in controlled particle sizes with a diameter range of 0.1-400 m while, at the same time, offering good material properties.

As a result of the acquisition, the first ready-to-use powder materials were introduced to the market in late-2019: two thermoplastic elastomers based on innovative copolyesters for powder-based 3D printing technologies. Both products exhibit high elasticity and flexibility combined with good resilience, remain tough and flexible after the printing process without compromising surface quality and are available in white or black, depending on the application.

Pioneer in powder materials for powder bed fusion Evonik's new Centre for Structured Polymers Technology comprises an application technology laboratory with 3D printers and a processing area, a R&D laboratory, production rooms and associated office areas as well as meeting rooms. The building complex has modern air extraction systems, meets the highest safety standards and complies with applicable workplace ergonomics standards.

"The new Technology Centre continues the success story of Structured Polymers under the umbrella of Evonik. We have now created the necessary framework to establish this advanced technology for the production of 3D printable polymer powders on the market," says Thomas Gro e-Puppendahl, head of the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Growth Field at Evonik.

Sumitomo modernises production logistics and training centre

Meanwhile, in other news, machinery firm Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery has since 2016, invested almost EUR20 million in modernising facilities and equipment at its two German sites in Schwaig and Wiehe. Recently, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the next project phase within the growth strategy of the Japanese-German injection moulding machinery manufacturer: the construction of a new lightweight warehouse with 1,600 sq m of floor space in Schwaig.

"The optimisation of our internal logistics is the logical consequence of the capacity expansion and modernisation of production. We can further increase production efficiency and throughput times and achieve faster delivery times," says CEO Gerd Liebig.

The new hall location enables a direct material flow from goods receipt and the dispatch loading zone to production. Future plant expansions have also been accounted for in the planning of the building. Notably, the new hall houses the central collection point for production waste in order to make sorting, disposal and recycling even more efficient.

Sumitomo modernises production logistics and training centre

The expansion and modernisation of the training centre in Schwaig is now also complete. Doubling capacity for customer training, the expansion of new training rooms provides direct connection to the applications technology department. As a result, the company’s training team has expanded to eight team members, providing training in machine technology, application technology and robotics. The rooms are equipped with the latest media technology, including digital boards with touchback function and an online studio, which enables course participants from all over the world to benefit from professional online training.

"With our modular training concepts and the worldwide integration of training material, our solutions can be used in an even more target-oriented and efficient way," explains Liebig.

"We can now tailor the training courses to suit individual needs. As a result, customers are more readily prepared and can immediately utilise the competitive advantages of new machinery and application technologies from the start. Thanks to modern media technology, we now offer efficient online training which reduces the time people need to allocate to professional skills development and performing practical exercises," adds Dr. Thorsten Thümen, Senior Director Technology at Sumitomo (SHI) Demag.


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