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Windesheim University of Applied Sciences invests in knowledge development of new generation of engineers

    Wednesday 7 April 2021
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The Polymer Engineering professorship of Windesheim University of Applied Sciences is taking further steps in the field of Industrial Additive Manufacturing (IAM) by acquiring an Arburg Freeformer: unique 3D printing technology. This new Freeformer means a further expansion of the university's range of IAM-based machines. This investment provides new opportunities for research, education and the professional field, including start-ups, to work together on knowledge development and innovative applications.

Geert Heideman, associate professor of the Polymer Engineering research group: "Knowledge of this new printing technology is indispensable for a future-proof industry that demands faster product innovations and customized product solutions. That´s why we invest in this as a university of applied sciences, so that our current students will enter the labour market with knowledge of the very latest technology. The Arburg Freeformer, together with the EOS M400 and P100, is the linking pin between education, research and practice.”

A machine that combines two disciplines

In 2013, Arburg - one of the bigger players among injection moulding machine manufacturers - presented this new Freeformer for the first time. The Arburg Freeformer Process (APF) is a very specific 3D printing technology, which requires knowledge of both polymer processing and Additive Manufacturing. The technology offers a product quality close to that of injection moulding and makes it possible to use (certified) standard raw materials. The machine thus combines the disciplines of Additive Manufacturing and injection moulding and fits perfectly with the knowledge of these two disciplines within the professorship of Polymer Engineering.

Interest from the business world

Windesheim is acquiring the Freeformer for practice-based research and knowledge development from TE Connectivity Nederland in 's-Hertogenbosch. TE Connectivity Nederland (TE) was founded in 1955 as AMP, still a household name in 's-Hertogenbosch, and has gone through quite a few developments. Today, the company is known as an international market leader in the field of industrial engineering with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, driven by innovation and collaboration.

In more than 140 countries TE delivers connectivity and sensor solutions that are essential in our increasingly 'connected world'. Together with engineers, they turn concepts into creations. They redefine what is possible using proven intelligent, efficient and high-performance TE products and solutions. Its 80,000 employees, including 7,500 engineers, work with customers worldwide across a wide range of industries.

And already the machine is attracting the attention of many companies in the Zwolle area. Researchers from the professorship are collaborating with them to explore the possibilities of this technology. Starting entrepreneurs who are developing their innovative products further at Green PAC iLab also stand to benefit, as the Freeformer offers opportunities for manufacturing small series of products.

Knowledge boost from the professorship

For the research group, the Freeformer is the opportunity to give a further boost to research and education on polymer engineering. It will first find its way into the minor Product Engineering, but later also into practicals of the Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Product Design programmes, as well as the Polymer Engineering master's programme offered by Windesheim together with NHL Stenden. The new machine will supplement courses in which students will be working with polymer processing techniques and designs.

Moreover, prototyping with this production technology is obviously of great interest to students, because it allows one or a few products that come close to injection moulding quality to be made relatively quickly and cheaply. Windesheim now has a wide range of AM techniques for polymers and metal and software packages for designing for AM. By introducing the Freeformer, the University of Applied Sciences is once again building on its knowledge and on new generations of engineers.


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