14 June 2017 8:54
Considering what new metal printing technology means for AM
The team at RP Platform were incredibly interested to read about the launch of Desktop Metal’s new metal printing methods, bound metal deposition (BMD) and microwave sintering. The former utilises metal powder bound in plastic filament, then printed using a process similar to fused deposition modelling. The latter utilises existing metal injection moulding materials, which are combined with a binding material and sintered in a specially-designed furnace.
It’s always exciting when a new method for 3D printing is unveiled, and these two new approaches certainly have huge implications for additive manufacturing as a whole. In particular, these new technologies are indicative of several wider trends in the AM sector:
- As AM continues its slow but steady move from prototyping to production, new technology is sure to arise in response. Developing technology to allow for batch production using 3D metal printing is simply a logical response to a current gap in AM’s capabilities. We would not expect this technology to wholly replace established techniques, such as CNC machining, anytime soon, but providing manufacturers with new options can only encourage them to explore potential applications for AM in their own projects.
- The materials and technology used for creating and removing support structures are becoming increasingly sophisticated, designed with ease of removal in mind. This will help reduce the post-processing time required for both prototyping and production. Fewer project stages will lead to more agile, streamlined workflows. Much the same could be said of the push towards faster, more efficient printing methods.
- The combination of well-established materials with new technologies will be a huge boon for manufacturers who require prototypes to have identical mechanical requirements to the planned production versions (automotive and aerospace, for example).
- The use of tailored software with the new printers is a good example of how manufacturers must consider the complementary software and processes that go along with any sort of 3D printing technology. While it remains to be seen how well this machine-specific software will work with the other popular software platforms used in AM, it is encouraging that more and more companies are thinking in terms of fully integrated solutions like this.
We look forward to seeing the first designs printed with this new technology!