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Managing Editor  | May 2017

Desktop Metal set to change manufacturing with new 3-D printing system


Desktop Metal, a company founded in 2015 with the goal of making metal 3-D printing more accessible for engineering teams, believes that it has created a system that will fulfill its mission and change how metal is manufactured, according to a recent press release.

 

dm_studio_system-2_600

The DM Studio system is expected to start shipping in August.
(Desktop Metal)

 

The company, based in Burlington, Mass., released the DM Studio and the DM Production systems in late April that it claims are the fastest metal 3-D printing systems in the world.

 

“The DM Studio and DM Production systems change the rules of traditional metal manufacturing solutions,” the press releases stated, “with the advent of first-of-its-kind innovative approaches that reduce costs and significantly increase speed, safety, and print quality.”

 

The Desktop Metal Studio is 10 times less expensive than existing technology and comes with a complete platform, including a printer and a microwave-enhanced sintering furnace for producing complex geometries of metal 3-D printed part in an office or shop floor. The system starts at $49,900.

 

DM Studio utilizes the company’s proprietary Bound Metal Disposition (BMD) for accurate and repeatable parts and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology for plastics. There are no hazardous powders, lasers or cutting tools required.

 

The website added, “No need for dedicated operators, the DM Studio System uses cloud-based software to streamline the entire workflow so engineers can go from computer-aided design (CAD) software to printed parts seamlessly.  Proprietary Separable Supports make it possible to remove support structures by hand, while swappable print cartridges make for safe, fast material changes.”

 

It is also capable, according to the company, of working with “hundreds of different metal alloys.”

 

The DM Production system takes that technology and scales it to meet high volume needs. It uses the proprietary Single Pass Jetting (SPJ) technology and Desktop Metal claims it is 100 times faster than laser additive manufacturing processes.

 

“Until now, metal 3D printing has failed to meet today’s manufacturing needs due to high costs, slow processes and hazardous materials,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and Co-founder of Desktop Metal.  “With a team of some of the world’s leading experts in materials science, engineering and innovation, Desktop Metal has eliminated these barriers by developing metal 3D printing systems that can safely produce complex, strong metal parts at scale.”

 

DM Studio will be available in May and start shipping in August. DM Production will begin shipping in 2018.

 

The company was recently featured in a Forbes article that noted its prowess in the field of 3-D printing has drawn almost $100 million in venture funding, including companies like BMW, GE, and Stratasys.

 

The systems were also highlighted by MIT Technology Review (four MIT professors were part of the group that founded Desktop Metal, including the head of the school’s Department of Materials Science and Emanuel Sachs, who filed one of the original 3-D printing patents.)

 

The MIT article explained, “For its prototyping machine, Desktop Metal adopted a method from plastic-based 3-D printing. But instead of a softened polymer, it uses metal powders mixed with a flowable polymer binder. The formulation is extruded, using the printed binder to clump the metal powder into the intended shapes.

 

“However, whether the part is printed with the prototyping machine or the production model, the resulting object—part plastic binder and part metal—lacks the strength of a metal one. So it goes into a specially designed microwave oven for sintering, a process of using heat to make the material more dense, producing a part with the desired properties. In a series of carefully calibrated steps during the sintering process, the polymer is burned off, and then the metal is fused together at a temperature well below its melting point.”

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