By Olivia Cahoon
Part 2 of 2
While plastic is often used to create three-dimensional (3D) objects, some manufacturers opt for metal additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. Faster and more efficient than traditional manufacturing techniques, metal AM systems are used for a range of products including custom items, functional parts, jewelry, medical devices, prototypes, and small structures.
Metal AM Devices
Available from Additive Industries, the MetalFAB1 Productivity is an integrated metal AM system designed for high-end industrial application in aerospace, medical, high-tech equipment, tooling, and automotive industries. Using powder bed fusion technology, the device contains four lasers and at least two AM cores for continuous printing. The MetalFAB1 offers a 420x420x400 millimeter (mm) build volume.
Aurora Labs Ltd.’s Rapid Manufacturing Printer One (Rmp1) is a direct metal laser melting 3D printer featuring multi-layer concurrent printing technology. Aurora’s patented Multi-Level Concurrent Printing (MCP) technology allows for direct metal 3D printing up to 350 kg per day. MCP technology enables the multi-laser system to operate over multiple powder layers in parallel, multiplying lasers on time and productivity over non-MCP equipped direct metal laser melting systems. Rmp1 features a 450×450 mm build volume and multiple lasers with several power options.
The Desktop Metal Production System uses single-pass jetting technology to deliver speeds up to 12,000 cm3 per hour—more than 100 times faster than quad-laser metal printers. Low-cost metal injection molding (MIM) powder, high throughput, and simple post-processing deliver per-part costs competitive with traditional manufacturing processes.
ExOne’s largest metal 3D printer, the M-Print, is suited for printing large metal parts or handling large-volume print jobs. With industrial-grade scale and flexibility, it supports 3D metal printing in the automotive, aerospace, and energy sectors. M-Print offers an 800x500x400 mm build capability with up to 4,800 cc per hour.
FormAlloy X Series is a laser metal deposit system featuring closed-loop control, variable wavelength lasers, and Formed powder feeders. Each machine is equipped with a FormAlloy AX metal deposition head and a customizable build volume with up to five axes of motion. All systems are designed to utilize open standards for powder supply, so a user can work with their own powders if desired.
Released in September 2018, the HP Inc. Metal Jet is a binder jetting system that simplifies design and manufacturing processes by eliminating two steps—mold creation and first-stage debinding. It uses wide-area processing to build the entire layer at one time for faster, less expensive, and more reliable building. Metal Jet is also designed to fit seamlessly into existing workflows and uses similar metal powders and sintering furnaces to those used in MIM, such as stainless steel. With HP Metal Jet, customers can easily produce geometrically complex parts with HP’s isotropic mechanical properties that meet or exceed ASTM and MPIF standards. Leveraging HP’s Thermal Inkjet technology, it also provides consistent high-quality output at speeds with up to four times more nozzle redundancy and two times more printbars.
The Markforged, Inc. Metal X is an atomic diffusion AM technology and fusion deposition modeling style metal printer. Released in January 2017, it uses 17-4 PH stainless steel, Iconel 625, A2 Tool Steel, D2 Tool Steel, and H13 Tool Steel. An all-in-one system, Markforged produced the software, hardware, and materials to ensure a high degree of accuracy, consistency, and repeatability. It is the only system offering stainless steel, tool steel, super alloys, and non-ferrous alloys in one package.
In March 2019, Optomec released the new LENS CS 600 and CS 800 Controlled Atmosphere directed energy deposition systems. These new additions to the Optomec Laser Engineered Net Shaping Classic System Series are configurable and maximize the process build envelope with a minimal system footprint. The LENS CS 600 and CS 800 come standard with controlled atmosphere chambers allowing for processing of both non-reactive and reactive metals in an atmosphere that keeps moisture and oxygen levels at less than ten ppm. Also standard is the powerful Siemens 840D controller, which allows for 3D printing from three axis up to simultaneous five axis motion.
Available in November 2019, the Sharebot MetalONE is a metal sintering direct metal laser sintering-selective laser melting 3D printer for small- and medium-sized metal parts. It features a print area of 65x65x100 mm with a maximum build speed of five meters per second. The device uses 316L steel and cobalt chrome materials.
SLM Solutions NA, Inc. released the SLM 280 Production Series in November 2019. It is a selective laser melting/laser powder bed fusion AM technology. The device uses metal powder materials and operates up to 88 ccm/h with 400 watt twin lasers. SLM 280 features faster processing with twin-laser configuration, patented bi-directional powder recoating, permanent filter module, closed-loop powder handling, open system for materials and parameters, upgraded process control, and optimized gas flow and recirculation.
Spee3D developed the world’s first metal 3D printer leveraging Supersonic 3D deposition technology to deliver manufacturing grade printing at production speeds. The technology allows operators to print industrial quality metal parts in minutes.
The Xjet 1400M uses NanoParticle Jetting AM technology. The device enables the manufacturing of complex parts and complex geometries with superfine details, smooth surface, pinpoint accuracy, and sealed material cartridges that do not require special safety equipment and no harmful powders. Soluble support materials require limited post processing. The Carmel 1400M has a 1,400 squared centimeter build tray. The device uses nano-particle materials in a liquid suspension for printing.
A variety of materials and metal AM technologies are available for 3D printing. Before opting for a system, manufacturers should consider geometry requirements, level of expertise, and productivity requirements.
Nov2019, Industrial Print Magazine