Jun 30, 2016 | By Tess

Just over a year ago, we wrote about an especially promising Kickstarter campaign for a metal 3D printing filament called Filamet. Developed by Wisconsin-based startup The Virtual Foundry, Filamet offered makers a way to print almost entirely metallic objects directly from their desktop 3D printers. As one can imagine, the crowdfunding campaign was a huge success, raising over $30,000. Now, and excitingly for those who did not get on the crowdfunding train, The Virtual Foundry is bringing its innovative metal 3D printing material to the public after having fulfilled its backer rewards.

Typically, 3D printing with metal requires state-of-the-art and very expensive industrial 3D printers, which are not always readily available to the average maker. Bradley Woods, one of the inventors of Filamet, explained that this reality was the inspiration for the versatile metal filament. “3D Printer manufacturers have struggled for years to bring 3D Metal Printers down into a workable price range,” he explained. “Filamet takes a different approach. Rather than bringing the high-end down, it extends the capabilities of current 3D printers up to those of the high-end machines.”

3D print made from Filamet

3D print after being fired in a kiln

Filamet has a composition of over 88% metal and for the moment comes in three varieties: a copper PLA, a bronze PLA, and a bronze ABS. As The Virtual Foundry explains, if your 3D printer works with standard PLA filaments, it will work with Filamet, meaning that just about anyone can 3D print with metal now. Additionally, prints made with Filamet can be turned into pure metal by heating them in a kiln which burns away the 12% binding material.

The U.S. made innovative metal 3D printing material is not only advantageous in terms of cost (a 0.5kg spool of Filamet will only set you back $85), but also in terms of time. While many metal laser 3D printers can take up to 48 hours to complete metal parts, Filamet and a standard 3D printer can turn out parts in a fraction of the time, even in under 5 hours. Woods says, "We expect materials to account for a large portion of near-term product innovation in the 3D Printing market. Our company offers an immediate solution to producing real and useful metal prints on the desktop 3D Printer that you already own."

Since the success of its Kickstarter campaign, The Virtual Foundry has also been working with a number of prestigious companies and agencies who have recognized the potentials of Filamet. For instance, they have been working with fashion brand Calvin Klein to explore small-scale manufacturing, as well as with a nuclear medicine facility to develop affordable consumable parts for Radiation Therapy. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has also been working with The Virtual Foundry’s technology to research and develop 3D printed uranium fuel cells for Nuclear Reactors. Of course, the metal filament can also be used for any home projects, such as making jewelry, figurines, or any assortment of things.

Considering that the technology used to produce Filamet can be applied to any material that can be sintered, the possibilities for types of Filamet materials is vast. As mentioned, The Virtual Foundry currently has three products available for purchase through its website, but is planning to unveil some new filaments within the next six months. Among their future products will be more types of metal filaments, as well as glass and ceramic filaments.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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/\/ / /\/ _/ /\ wrote at 10/30/2017 11:29:13 PM:

cool cool my brool brool

Stephen wrote at 1/30/2017 1:56:39 PM:

While they had a successful crowd funded campaign, they are yet to fulfill their commitment to their backers of this campaign, who have in good faith backed this company only to receive no response to queries or their rewards. Shame!!!

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