The combination of biochemical materials and 3D printers presents an important proposition for the 3D printing industry. In 2021, 3D printing company Flashforge and materials manufacturer Kewan worked together to explore this scientific question. Flashforge supports both consumer and professional 3D printers. With Kewan’s environmentally friendly UPM Formi filament material, the two technology companies have developed solutions for the fields of architecture, furniture and design.
Kewan actively organizes community activities, especially with teenagers, to disseminate 3D printing technology. To expand the research and development of 3D printing, Kewan supported the establishment of the Biomass Materials Science Museum at the Hangzhou Chemical Industry Research Institute.
Free the thread of tradition
Kewan’s core technical material is UPM Formi, invented by Finland UPM. Kewan, Flashforge and other Chinese companies cooperated with Finland UPM to develop the downstream market. UPM Formi material is innovative as it is blended with high stretch microfiber and eco-friendly poly e lactobacilli. As the base material of the Cellulosic Biomass Materials Program, it is certified biodegradable by European REACH and PEFC standards. It is also non-toxic for contact with human skin.
3D printing filament mixed with UPM Formi demonstrates the unique grain, texture and feel of wood. Compared to UPM Formi-free filament, the finished products have improved heat shrinkage and strong supportability. When printing angles close to 70°C, support structures are not even necessary. Therefore, projects printed with material containing UPI Formi are widely suitable for furniture production. UPM Formi could take the form of the atmosphere of a home or an art exhibition, making it consumers’ first choice as a material.
Success in innovative furniture
The demand for 3D printing is increasing with the increase in the number of customers. From small accessories to furniture, the incredible design possible with 3D printing is increasingly being applied to bigger and bigger projects.
Currently, Kewan uses a Flashforge Guider 2S desktop 3D printer and a Creator 4 commercial printer as the main means of productivity. These two models cover customer demand as widely as possible: the Guide 2S works best for smaller projects, while the Creator 4, with its large build chamber, is the first choice for large-scale printing.
Recently, in an exhibition entitled
The elements in the two images below were all printed with filament containing UPM Formi. Even though the material is the same, the translucency and feel are totally different. Kewan researchers explained that the less UPM Formi content, the better the detailed expression, for small gifts and kits. The more UPM Formi, the stronger the sense and feel of wood, which is very appealing to designers and furniture makers.
Various 3D printers create multiple productions
UPM Formi material is always unique, whether in an exhibition or a print lab. In the image below, 50 Guider 2S 3D printers in Kewan’s production workshop are working simultaneously.
The Guider 2S helps to significantly reduce turnaround time. Kewan chose the Guider 2S to be the main strength of its production line because of its exceptional stability for long-term 3D printing (30-40 hours continuously). The number of Guider 2S printers in Kewan’s production floor has steadily increased since the start of its partnership with Flashforge. The lab currently has 50 units, but Kewan plans to add two more units per month.
Among the various product classes, lampshades have become the most popular product for Kewan. Dr. Tian, senior engineer and product line manager of 3D printers, tells Flashforge that the shade below is widely praised by marketing and has even seen excessive demand. Produced using the stylish UPM Formi color series, the shade’s transparency and wood texture are ideal for everyday lighting and decoration.
However, bulk shade production cannot be maintained with the Guider 2S. Due to its large print size, the Creator 4 was chosen by Kewan for production. The large print chamber is 400*350*500mm, which easily fits the largest lampshade. Each lampshade requires more than six hours to print, which is possible thanks to the long-lasting printing capabilities of the Creator 4. Kewan researchers can leave the worries to the 3D printer and free them from supervising the process .
A small sitting bench, the newest product developed by Kewan, is well received by families with children, communities and educational institutions. Its size can be increased or reduced to meet different requirements. All family members can have specially customized seats for closer interaction. 3D printed with UPM Formi, the seat offers improved friction and resistance to ensure safety, especially for children.
Cloud Printing: From Data to Product
2021 was the third year of cooperation between Flashforge and Kewan. For Flashforge, 3D printer innovation isn’t the company’s only focus. Flashforge prioritizes the promotion and democratization of 3D printing technology. During the partnership, from machine production to project completion, Flashforge fully supported Kewan detailed with 3D printing guidelines and post-project training.
Digital transportation could lead the manufacturing revolution. Major industries will develop local 3D printing departments in the future, as manufacturers can transfer digital information across their network with 3D printers.
Small-scale products, such as household supplies, could even be printed at home with home 3D printers (such as the Flashforge Adventurer series). Retailers will be able to sell products digitally rather than physically. This even includes furniture and building materials.
The most immediately relevant factor is digital storage. At present, due to limited space in showrooms and warehouses, physical retail requires limited production. However, once the product information is stored in a cloud system, on-demand 3D production will be realized. Flashforge offers several methods of data transfer: USB and WIFI. Thanks to the 3D printer’s built-in camera, the operator can access a fully remote view of the entire production process.
Digital retail avoids issues such as out of stock and elimination of sales hassles. Tomorrow, 3D printers will manufacture each product, broken down into individual components and parts.
Listening to opportunities
The cooperation between Kewan and Flashforge has been an exploration of integrating materials science with 3D printing techniques. Simultaneously, it is a revolutionary attempt to disrupt the boundary between 3D printing and other industries. In 2022, Flashforge will devote to make new attempts to enter more fields and generalize 3D printing techniques to the larger population.