Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Major Advance in 3D Metal Printing

 

I just got emails about this earlier today. I have no idea on the cost (I’m waiting for my rep to quote it) and it won’t be released for sale until 2018, but if this tech works out then we’re looking at a truly massive breakthrough in affordable (for businesses anyway, not yet consumers) 3D metal printing. Probably still out of the price range for my business, but this is a significant move towards affordable 3D printing of high-quality metal parts.

First up we have a desktop (really benchtop) metal printing system. Nothing like this has been out before.

Next up we have a high-volume version:

The second video demonstrates the mass printing of an impeller, with an estimated cost of under $5.00 a part. If they are correct, that is a very affordable price.

Amazing.

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  1. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Impressive. That process looks compatible with ceramics, too. (Different sintering furnace, though.)

    • #1
    • July 11, 2017, at 7:29 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ll finally be able to get a helmet that fits.

    • #2
    • July 11, 2017, at 7:34 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  3. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    I’ll finally be able to get a helmet that fits.

    The benchtop one has a small build envelope – just 200 x 200 x 300 mm, but the big one could do the job.

    • #3
    • July 11, 2017, at 7:38 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. OldDanRhody's speakeasy Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    I’ll finally be able to get a helmet that fits.

    Of titanium!

    • #4
    • July 11, 2017, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So I have a question, how does it fuse the piece together? Do they just heat it together? How do they get it to keep its shape if that is how they do it? Also how do they then properly temper the metal?

    • #5
    • July 11, 2017, at 8:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  6. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, how does it fuse the piece together? Do they just heat it together? How do they get it to keep its shape if that is how they do it? Also how do they then properly temper the metal?

    The printing process is this:

    • Metal is fed into the machine in a powdered form and compressed, one thin layer at a time.
    • Some sintering material is also deposited to act as a support material / glue
    • Then it goes into an oven that heats it up until it fuses, while the support material is burned off.

    This process works better for some metals than others, so does not require additional tempering.

    • #6
    • July 11, 2017, at 8:43 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Profile Photo Member

    skipsul (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, how does it fuse the piece together? Do they just heat it together? How do they get it to keep its shape if that is how they do it? Also how do they then properly temper the metal?

    The printing process is this:

    • Metal is fed into the machine in a powdered form and compressed, one thin layer at a time.
    • Some sintering material is also deposited to act as a support material / glue
    • Then it goes into an oven that heats it up until it fuses, while the support material is burned off.

    This process works better for some metals than others, so does not require additional tempering.

    I think the more accurate statement would be that it doesn’t support tempering which is a requirement for many situations. Doesn’t make it useless though – you just need to understand the limitations of what you are making.

    A few years ago, there was a company in the auto supplier field that was making a heavy investment in sintered metal printing “printed” a complete M1911 .45 cal handgun (except for the springs) and shot thousands of rounds through it with out failure. I’m not 100% sure but I believe they also printed the barrel which is impressive (granted they were pitching the machine as capable of printing connecting rods so in that context, a few thousand rounds in a pistol ain’t ‘nuthin compared to just a few minutes inside an internal combustion with the number of load cycles and the stress reversals as well). That’s a real 3D printing throw down even if it was on a machine I’m sure was substantially more expensive than this one likely is.

    In any case, I don’t see this as replacing general manufacturing as 3D printing doesn’t scale as well as traditional bulk machining or especially casting dozens of parts at once but the potential of otherwise un-manufacturable parts with voids or otherwise inaccessible surfaces being able to manufactured and rapid prototyping without substantial tooling investments is a big deal.

    We’ve advanced for the last few thousand years largely through materials engineering (better materials and better understanding to the materials themselves) but mostly in a subtractive sense; the ability to manufacture on an additive basis is very exciting; especially as the materials available to be used expands.

    • #7
    • July 11, 2017, at 8:52 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  8. Valiuth Member
    Valiuth Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    skipsul (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, how does it fuse the piece together? Do they just heat it together? How do they get it to keep its shape if that is how they do it? Also how do they then properly temper the metal?

    The printing process is this:

    • Metal is fed into the machine in a powdered form and compressed, one thin layer at a time.
    • Some sintering material is also deposited to act as a support material / glue
    • Then it goes into an oven that heats it up until it fuses, while the support material is burned off.

    This process works better for some metals than others, so does not require additional tempering.

    How does this process work for making things like springs or is this rally only good for making solid parts that don’t require a lot of flexibility?

    • #8
    • July 11, 2017, at 8:53 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, how does it fuse the piece together? Do they just heat it together? How do they get it to keep its shape if that is how they do it? Also how do they then properly temper the metal?

    The printing process is this:

    • Metal is fed into the machine in a powdered form and compressed, one thin layer at a time.
    • Some sintering material is also deposited to act as a support material / glue
    • Then it goes into an oven that heats it up until it fuses, while the support material is burned off.

    This process works better for some metals than others, so does not require additional tempering.

    How does this process work for making things like springs or is this rally only good for making solid parts that don’t require a lot of flexibility?

    It’s for solids and rigid structures only, I would not attempt springs as they require very specific tempering and annealing processes.

    • #9
    • July 11, 2017, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Profile Photo Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    So I have a question, how does it fuse the piece together? Do they just heat it together? How do they get it to keep its shape if that is how they do it? Also how do they then properly temper the metal?

    The printing process is this:

    • Metal is fed into the machine in a powdered form and compressed, one thin layer at a time.
    • Some sintering material is also deposited to act as a support material / glue
    • Then it goes into an oven that heats it up until it fuses, while the support material is burned off.

    This process works better for some metals than others, so does not require additional tempering.

    How does this process work for making things like springs or is this rally only good for making solid parts that don’t require a lot of flexibility?

    I’d imagine not very well.

    Springs, while simple, are fiendish. Very specific properties that are crucial to how the metal molecules themselves are arranged and related to each other. Hard to do when you’re dealing with what are basically just smaller blobs of the material you’re working with.

    But when we can get down to the molecular level – watch out!

    • #10
    • July 11, 2017, at 9:08 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. TG Thatcher
    TG

    This is so cool! Thanks for sharing it, Skipsul.

    • #11
    • July 11, 2017, at 9:28 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. aardo vozz Member

    SirZog (View Comment)

    A few years ago, there was a company in the auto supplier field that was making a heavy investment in sintered metal printing “printed” a complete M1911 .45 cal handgun (except for the springs) and shot thousands of rounds through it with out failure. I’m not 100% sure but I believe they also printed the barrel which is impressive (granted they were pitching the machine as capable of printing connecting rods so in that context, a few thousand rounds in a pistol ain’t ‘nuthin compared to just a few minutes inside an internal combustion with the number of load cycles and the stress reversals as well). That’s a real 3D printing throw down even if it was on a machine I’m sure was substantially more expensive than this one likely is.

    This is is amazing. If I understand this correctly, if a similar 3D printer is developed which is affordable for the “average” person, then the whole concept of gun control would become effectively meaningless, since many more people could simply make their own guns. Please correct me on this if I have overlooked something ?

    • #12
    • July 11, 2017, at 10:22 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Profile Photo Member

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    SirZog (View Comment)

    A few years ago, there was a company in the auto supplier field that was making a heavy investment in sintered metal printing “printed” a complete M1911 .45 cal handgun (except for the springs) and shot thousands of rounds through it with out failure. I’m not 100% sure but I believe they also printed the barrel which is impressive (granted they were pitching the machine as capable of printing connecting rods so in that context, a few thousand rounds in a pistol ain’t ‘nuthin compared to just a few minutes inside an internal combustion with the number of load cycles and the stress reversals as well). That’s a real 3D printing throw down even if it was on a machine I’m sure was substantially more expensive than this one likely is.

    This is is amazing. If I understand this correctly, if a similar 3D printer is developed which is affordable for the “average” person, then the whole concept of gun control would become effectively meaningless, since many more people could simply make their own guns. Please correct me on this if I have overlooked something ?

    No, I think you get it.

    You can’t stop the signal – though there will those that try. Some people are shocked when they find out that guns are relatively simple machines that can be made in a home workshop. Granted, this would be a fully functional gun and not some high end heirloom showpiece but still functional (quality dependent on the craftsman).

    Found a link to the printed M1911 – Stratasys did it on what at the time was a $1M+ printer .

    https://www.stratasysdirect.com/blog/how-its-made-3d-printed-1911-pistol/

    Printed the barrels like I thought I remembered. Didn’t realize the actually sold some.

    Did require some hand fitting but that’s a lot of the nature of the M1911 design which sort of barely makes it into interchangeable parts realm in some people’s opinions (“parts may require fitting” is a common statement in the aftermarket)

    • #13
    • July 11, 2017, at 10:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    This is is amazing. If I understand this correctly, if a similar 3D printer is developed which is affordable for the “average” person, then the whole concept of gun control would become effectively meaningless, since many more people could simply make their own guns. Please correct me on this if I have overlooked something ?

    There have been printed receivers in plastics (usually ABS as printing in nylon is still too expensive for the moment, and none of them in glass-filled resins as the extruders cannot handle the fill material) but they are fragile things and the guts and barrels are still metal.

    The home “build your own” gun business has instead been looking into inexpensive CNC mills, and there progress has been terrific. You buy a receiver casting (anything with less than 80% complete is not considered a firearm yet), clamp it into the mill, and let it run.

    Printing your own out of metal, though, would be a significant game changer.

    • #14
    • July 11, 2017, at 10:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Profile Photo Member

    Very cool. Thanks for posting.

    • #15
    • July 11, 2017, at 11:16 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Arahant Member

    We’re getting closer every day:

    The Car Company of the Future

    • #16
    • July 11, 2017, at 11:18 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Judge Mental Member

    We need John Walker over here to talk about the increase in capacity per dollar between the original IBM PC and what is available now. If they get the tech on this working, they there will be affordable home models 20 years later.

    • #17
    • July 11, 2017, at 11:24 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. aardo vozz Member

    SirZog (View Comment):

    Springs, while simple, are fiendish. Very specific properties that are crucial to how the metal molecules themselves are arranged and related to each other. Hard to do when you’re dealing with what are basically just smaller blobs of the material you’re working with.

    But when we can get down to the molecular level – watch out

    Getting down to the molecular/atomic level with 3D printing would also have law enforcement implications as well. Unless I’m overlooking something, if 3D printing ever were perfected at the molecular/atomic level, people could make their own drugs at home as well, and the so-called “war on drugs” would become effectively meaningless (or if you’re a libertarian, more meaningless than it already is). I realize people can make their own drugs at home now using something called “chemistry”, but with a 3D printer, no refining of an illegal substance is needed. You could simply make your drugs from readily available basic elements. I’m just talking “in theory” here: There are probably chemistry/physics/material science factors I am unaware of that would make this not possible or not practical, but in the future, who knows?

    • #18
    • July 11, 2017, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    We need John Walker over here to talk about the increase in capacity per dollar between the original IBM PC and what is available now. If they get the tech on this working, they there will be affordable home models 20 years later.

    Don’t hold your breath, unless you are expecting microscopic firearms and consumer goods. Though affordable home models may be available in 20 years, the progression won’t resemble Moore’s Law in semiconductors.

    • #19
    • July 11, 2017, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Judge Mental Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    We need John Walker over here to talk about the increase in capacity per dollar between the original IBM PC and what is available now. If they get the tech on this working, they there will be affordable home models 20 years later.

    Don’t hold your breath, unless you are expecting microscopic firearms and consumer goods. Though affordable home models may be available in 20 years, the progression won’t resemble Moore’s Law in semiconductors.

    Except that progression has applied to a lot more than semiconductors.

    • #20
    • July 11, 2017, at 11:45 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    We need John Walker over here to talk about the increase in capacity per dollar between the original IBM PC and what is available now. If they get the tech on this working, they there will be affordable home models 20 years later.

    Don’t hold your breath, unless you are expecting microscopic firearms and consumer goods. Though affordable home models may be available in 20 years, the progression won’t resemble Moore’s Law in semiconductors.

    Except that progression has applied to a lot more than semiconductors.

    No. It has not.

    Electronics and computing have been following a geometric progression pace of development, made possible by miniaturization. Doubling of capacity and/or performance for $x every 18 months or so for the past 70+ years.

    If transportation had followed such a trajectory, our vehicles would carry us from coast to coast in a few seconds with a few grams of gasoline. If food production, the entire world would be fed by the labor of a single farmer in a handful of days per year. If housing, every human on earth would be living in our own palaces, palaces outshining Buckingham or the Taj Mahal. If space travel, we’d already be exploring the nearest stars.

    They haven’t. They’ve improved, but linearly, or nearly so, not geometrically.

    Nothing in human history has advanced like modern electronics. Ever.

    • #21
    • July 11, 2017, at 12:26 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Judge Mental Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    We need John Walker over here to talk about the increase in capacity per dollar between the original IBM PC and what is available now. If they get the tech on this working, they there will be affordable home models 20 years later.

    Don’t hold your breath, unless you are expecting microscopic firearms and consumer goods. Though affordable home models may be available in 20 years, the progression won’t resemble Moore’s Law in semiconductors.

    Except that progression has applied to a lot more than semiconductors.

    No. It has not.

    Electronics and computing have been following a geometric progression pace of development, made possible by miniaturization. Doubling of capacity and/or performance for $x every 18 months or so for the past 70+ years.

    If transportation had followed such a trajectory, our vehicles would carry us from coast to coast in a few seconds with a few grams of gasoline. If food production, the entire world would be fed by the labor of a single farmer in a handful of days per year. If housing, every human on earth would be living in our own palaces, palaces outshining Buckingham or the Taj Mahal. If space travel, we’d already be exploring the nearest stars.

    They haven’t. They’ve improved, but linearly, or nearly so, not geometrically.

    Nothing in human history has advanced like modern electronics. Ever.

    I was thinking specifically of the hard drives in those computers. That is largely a mechanical device; there’s a lot more to it than just semiconductors. In the mid 80’s I paid $200 for 20Mb and that was a deal. Last few years, you can get a 1Tb for less than $100. $10/Mb to 10¢/Mb.

    • #22
    • July 11, 2017, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    f transportation had followed such a trajectory, our vehicles would carry us from coast to coast in a few seconds with a few grams of gasoline. If food production, the entire world would be fed by the labor of a single farmer in a handful of days per year. If housing, every human on earth would be living in our own palaces, palaces outshining Buckingham or the Taj Mahal. If space travel, we’d already be exploring the nearest stars.

    Note for those following along: these are not exaggerations. 70 years of doubling every 18 months is an improvement factor of 100 Trillion.

    • #23
    • July 11, 2017, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    I was thinking specifically of the hard drives in those computers. That is largely a mechanical device; there’s a lot more to it than just semiconductors. In the mid 80’s I paid $200 for 20Mb and that was a deal. Last few years, you can get a 1Tb for less than $100. $10/Mb to 10¢/Mb.

    That progress is entirely due to the increased speed and sophistication of the electronics producing the magnetic bits on the surfaces of the coated platters inside. A little is due to the precision of the electronics driving the head positioning servos. So, no.

    • #24
    • July 11, 2017, at 12:34 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Judge Mental Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    I was thinking specifically of the hard drives in those computers. That is largely a mechanical device; there’s a lot more to it than just semiconductors. In the mid 80’s I paid $200 for 20Mb and that was a deal. Last few years, you can get a 1Tb for less than $100. $10/Mb to 10¢/Mb.

    That progress is entirely due to the increased speed and sophistication of the electronics producing the magnetic bits on the surfaces of the coated platters inside. A little is due to the precision of the electronics driving the head positioning servos. So, no.

    Actually yes, since a hard drive is a decent analog to these types of machines. A combination of digital and mechanical.

    • #25
    • July 11, 2017, at 12:41 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    Actually yes, since a hard drive is a decent analog to these types of machines. A combination of digital and mechanical.

    Actually, no. To compete with other forms of manufacturing, a 3D printer has to physically go faster to produce physical products. Any reduction in particle size or layer thickness to improve quality has to be matched by a matching increase in # of particles or number of layers. Hard drives gained capacity and performance without spinning the platters faster or increasing the size of the platter to “hold more bits”; everything that made them faster and “bigger” (capacity) was just the movement of electrons. That worked so well the platters were shrunk instead, down to the typical 2.5″ diameter in modern laptops. Are the 3D printed cars in your imagined future going to be the size of Tonka toys? Or Matchbox replicas?

    • #26
    • July 11, 2017, at 12:59 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Judge Mental Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    To compete with other forms of manufacturing, a 3D printer has to physically go faster to produce physical products.

    No, it doesn’t. If I’m making my M1911 at home I don’t care if the manufacturing is slower than down at the Colt plant. The competition comes from being able to do it at home, and from being able to make thousands of items, where the Colt plant is only tooled up for one.

    • #27
    • July 11, 2017, at 1:06 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    To compete with other forms of manufacturing, a 3D printer has to physically go faster to produce physical products.

    No, it doesn’t. If I’m making my M1911 at home I don’t care if the manufacturing is slower than down at the Colt plant. The competition comes from being able to do it at home, and from being able to make thousands of items, where the Colt plant is only tooled up for one.

    Hah! Moving the goalposts on me. And are you going to tell me a benchtop gunsmith’s mill is only capable of making single products? That’s the apples-to-apples comparison, not your Colt strawman.

    • #28
    • July 11, 2017, at 1:15 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. 1967mustangman Inactive

    I used to get into tiffs with people on Ricochet that doubted the future of 3-D printing. They didn’t understand the potential, but you only need to be a company that manufactures to understand how awesome this is. We have an entire building devoted to automatic machining. This building makes brass fittings, hooks, nipples…..the sort of thing you need when putting together a complicated piece of equipment that has water and high-pressure air at its heart. Now when I say we have an entire building full of these machines I am not quite telling the truth, you see half the building has these machines in it and the other half stores the material waiting to be fed into these machines and it takes multiple deliveries a day to keep things stocked up (all done on a semi that appears to be carrying much less than its capacity). Now imagine if we could double the number of machines in the room and have our production powder delivered via UPS?

    • #29
    • July 11, 2017, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Judge Mental Member

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    To compete with other forms of manufacturing, a 3D printer has to physically go faster to produce physical products.

    No, it doesn’t. If I’m making my M1911 at home I don’t care if the manufacturing is slower than down at the Colt plant. The competition comes from being able to do it at home, and from being able to make thousands of items, where the Colt plant is only tooled up for one.

    Hah! Moving the goalposts on me. And are you going to tell me a benchtop gunsmith’s mill is only capable of making single products? That’s the apples-to-apples comparison, not your Colt strawman.

    I never said a [CoC] thing about competing with other forms of manufacturing, so who is moving the goalpost here?

    • #30
    • July 11, 2017, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • Like

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