Omni3D’s Unique FFF Extruder Cooling Technology Receives U.S. Patent

Polish 3D printer manufacturer Omni3D has been granted a patent for a technology called the “Omni3D Cooling System” that enables users to more efficiently cool the extruders of a molten filament fabrication (FFF) machine.

By stabilizing the filament temperature during feeding and deposition, Omni3D says its combined extruder, printhead and assembly system can deliver “significantly better quality” parts. The company has been granted a U.S. patent for the technology, and it is now expected to gain traction in the already lucrative market for the FFF 3D printing industry.

“At Omni3D, we want to provide best-in-class 3D printing solutions to produce prints with excellent dimensional accuracy and stability,” said Omni3D CEO Paweł Robak. “I am proud that we are able to bring additional value to the 3D printing community with our product now approved for the US market. We believe our solution represents an important improvement to the extrusion process.”

Omni3D cooling system. Photo via Omni3D.
Print head with Omni3D cooling system. Photo via Omni3D.

Omni3D’s FFF Printing Portfolio

Since its founding in 2013, Omni3D’s reach has grown significantly, with its customer base now ranging from multinational corporations such as Siemens and Mahle to defense contractors such as BAE Systems. Currently, the company’s products include multiple versions of its Omni200, Omni500 LITE, OmniSTART and Factory 2.0 units, as well as filaments, designed to meet industrial, automotive and educational needs.

With its Omni3D series of machines, the company has introduced a user-friendly system with scalability and capacity so that adopters can choose the system that best suits their use case. While the entry-level OmniSTART has a 200 x 200 x 150 mm build volume and a maximum printhead temperature of 260°C, the more powerful Omni500 is larger and its printhead can safely operate at 360°C.

For engineers looking for an FFF 3D printer capable of handling more demanding applications, Omni3D’s Factory 2.0 machines are larger. These have a 500 x 500 x 500 mm build volume and feature an enclosed heating chamber. As a result, Factory 2.0 is able to create large format prints using engineering-grade Thermec Zed in addition to ABS and CPFA industrial thermoplastics.

Previously, the company’s technology has been applied to a 3D-printed prototype of the Hussarya, a continuously redeveloped Polish supercar that has grown from its original design to a road-ready GT3 race car in eight years. Among more end-use applications, Omni3D is also working with the Cyprus University of Technology to develop 3D-printed biofuel reactors capable of converting carbon dioxide into alternative fuels.

Omni3D's Factory 2.0 NET. Image via Omni3D.
Omni3D’s Factory 2.0 NET. Image via Omni3D.

Omni3D Cooling System

Although FFF is the most popular form of 3D printing on the market, Omni3D says there are still many areas of the technology that require further research. One particular area the company has identified as a nuisance to users is extruder overheating. The company notes that without cooling, the filaments can be heated to softening temperatures, causing them to deform in the feed zone of the extruder.

This, in turn, can cause the extruder’s gear system to “bite” into the material, effectively altering the feed rate and ultimately resulting in inconsistent prints. To address this overheating problem, Omni3D has come up with a way to cool the extruder, at the point where the filament is “clamped” between the pressure bearing and the gear, which contributes to stable and repeatable extrusion of the plastic.

In the process, the company discovered that the key to stabilizing extrusion temperatures was to improve the operating conditions of the FFF machine’s knurled filament clamping system. These need to be kept cool enough to ensure the correct force is used to press the filament into the print head, so to achieve this, Omni3D has developed an extruder design whose body also acts as a heat sink.

In effect, the company’s extruder absorbs thermal energy through its body, which is then transferred through a coolant to a cooler, which vents the excess heat to the environment. By creating the system using titanium and aluminum, and bypassing the need for a dedicated heat sink, Omni3D has managed to make it lighter and more compact, benefits that also increase its throughput.

At the same time, the extruder minimizes the risk of material softening at the wrong stage, reducing the chance of over or under extrusion, while improving the operation of the FFF printer motor. The system is also said to give users greater control over the amount of consumable feed and print accuracy compared to just using a g-code material setup.

“The basic idea of ​​the system is to lower the temperature of the filament in the heating chamber,” explains Krzysztof Kardach, Omni3D’s lead technologist. “By stabilizing it at a temperature away from softening, the filament is more stably delivered by the extruder to the nozzle. This feature allows our printers to work with a wide variety of filaments and provides better control over the feed of the plasticized filament. material pressure.”

“By cooling the extruder where the filament is ‘clamped’ between the pressure bearing and the extruder gear, we can obtain very stable and repeatable quantities of extruded material,” he added. “Without cooling, filaments in the extruder may heat up to the softening point. Filaments heated after being compressed in the extruder may deform from a circular cross-section to an oval, and the gears will “bite” more; thus changing the effective amount of feed.”

Schematic of the Omni3D cooling system. Image via Omni3D.
Schematic of the Omni3D cooling system. Image via Omni3D.

US patented extruder design

After integrating this extruder design into its 3D printer, Omni3D is now also patented in the US. The company’s first U.S. patent, patent number “US 2019/0184633 A1,” covers not only its heat-dissipating extruder design, but also a modular head assembly system that further prevents potential printing errors.

In practice, the device’s dual-head layout achieves this by making it easier to switch the printheads, while enabling the user to control the softening temperature parameter for both filaments simultaneously. In addition to enabling different types of materials to be used in the bases and supports of the parts, the system also helps keep them cool before and during feeding, improving process stability.

“Thanks to this patented technology, the Omni3D system is not only one of the most versatile in its application, but with its cooling element we can stabilize the entire printer,” concludes Tomasz Garniec, Global Sales Manager at Omni3D. . ” This, along with the technical aspects, gives the equipped Omni3D printer device a better process feel and guarantees stable printing for hours.”

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Featured image shows the printhead with the Omni3D cooling system. Photo via Omni3D.

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