New Way Air Bearings® has long been at the forefront of enabling new and innovative technologies. And, now, we want to extend the capabilities of our Externally Pressurized Media™ (EPP) into a technology that’s already shown its potential in numerous fields, including additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing has allowed many industries to produce previously non-manufacturable components with fit, finish, and speed that simply wasn’t achievable before.
3D printing as a service industry in and of itself has shown massive growth—from a market size of around 10 million dollars in 2010, up to 300 million in 2020. Furthermore, this market is expected to grow upwards of 25% year over year.
Additive manufacturing is rapidly becoming mainstay technology in aerospace engineering, enabling not only the creation of on-the-go prototypes, but also the creation of end-use ready, dynamic components made from cutting-edge materials like Ultem—thermoset resins capable of being used within turbine engines. Airbus, Bell, General Electric, and Lockheed have all integrated additive manufacturing into their production flow.
The medical and healthcare fields have recently begun adopting 3D printing for everything—even cranial and orthopedic implants. These 3D-printed medical devices can be perfectly fitted to each patient’s anatomy, aligned with the ambitious goal of additively producing organs for those in need. Additively-manufactured implants have already shown a significant potential for decreasing rejection rates and increasing ease of implantation, a win for both healthcare providers and patients alike.
Linear motors and actuators are the driving force behind any 3D printer, but are limited by the inherent inertia, maximum velocity, and inaccuracies built into contact motion products. Our full lineup of Externally Pressurized Porous Media (EPP) linear motion products is suited for XY and XYZ gantry configurations for the next generation of 3D printers.
New Way Air Bearings offer a tenfold increase in speed over their contact motion competitors, increasing velocity from 3-5 m/s up to 50/s. For both 3D printing customers and suppliers, the time a machine spends occupied with any given print is often the greatest contributing factor in how much that print will cost.
The largest gulf between a digital file and the resultant print is the dots per inch (DPI), or resolution of the printing manufacturing your object. The higher the DPI, the closer you are to a perfect transformation of a digital file into a physical object.
Currently, fused deposition modelling (FDM) provides a resolution of +/- 0.15% or +/-0.2mm, while selective laser sintering (SLS), provides an order of magnitude increase in precision, with a tolerance of +/-0.01mm. Because air bearing products don’t need to contend with friction and the inherent inertia of ball bearings, we see them positioned to provide the next leap in precision, allowing for the production of parts indistinguishable from their conceptual origins.
In virtually every precision industry across the globe, cleanroom compatibility is becoming an absolute necessity for ensuring parts are produced free of contaminants.
In aerospace, cleanroom protocols are required for metal and composite bonding. In healthcare, the concept of cleanroom compliance has long existed in the form of sterility for ensuring anything which enters the human body is free of germs or biological agents.
Thanks to recent in-house testing by New Way, our products are proven ISO 14644-1 Class 3 cleanroom compliant. This means they allow less than 1,000 0.1 micrometer-sized particles per cubic meter into a given space. This is a result of the porous carbon itself which acts as a natural air filter, making our products the perfect foundation for 3D printing systems in a cleanroom or sterile environment.
If you have questions about how New Way Air Bearing products can be applied to your additive manufacturing solution, or have ideas you’d like to discuss, please reach out to us!