Oct 4, 2016 | By Alec

Big things are happening in the metal 3D printing industry. New technological innovations are rapidly increasing the manufacturing capacity of this technology, and big industry players are working hard to integrate metal 3D printing into production lines. Just last month, GE announced plans to acquire Arcam and SLM, two of the most successful metal 3D printing specialists, for a combined sum of $1.4 billion. But it seems as though French industrial giant Groupe Gorgé is taking another route. Their subsidiary Prodways is working hard to combine the best of conventional metal injection molding and 3D printing into an indirect metal 3D printing system that will be up to five times faster than competing 3D printing solutions. Could this be the key to unlocking the potential of metal 3D printing?

Groupe Gorgé is a major French industrial player linked with the nuclear, safety, robotics and fire protection systems industries in more than ten countries, and they have been experimenting with 3D printing for years. Their subsidiary Prodways has especially been working hard to set up new professional 3D printing platforms, and earlier this year released the ProMaker P1000 (the first sub €100,000 laser sintering 3D printer) with that market in mind. Back in May, they also launched the artistic ‘Les Créations’ 3D printing division, completely focused on the luxury, design, art and architecture sectors.

But over the past two years, Prodways’ R&D teams have also been collaborating with CEA Tech Liten of French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission on the development of a brand new metal 3D printing solution. Based mainly in Grenoble and Chambéry (INES), Liten (Laboratoire d’Innovation pour les Technologies des Energies Nouvelles - Laboratory for Innovation in New Energy Technologies) is one of Europe’s most important centres for research into new energy technologies.

While few details have been revealed, the technology combines MOVINGLight technology with a mixture of organic binders and metal powders to rapidly and indirectly fabricate metal parts. In this case, ‘indirect’ refers to the 3D printing of tools, master patterns and unique molds with extremely complex geometries which can subsequently be used to quickly produce large volumes of metal parts. A 3D printer’s ability to manufacture high quality and complex components is thus combined with the large volume production capacity of other manufacturing techniques such as lost wax casting and metal injection molding. A perfect synergy of available technologies.

Sample of a metal part printed using the Prodways© R&D technology

This technology has been under development for two years, and Prodways and CEA Tech LITEN have only just unveiled the first titanium part that has been succesfuly manufactured using this new exclusive process. The results can be seen above. However, the developers have argued that several advantages of this new 3D printing approach are already visible. Most significantly, it is compatible with all types of metal materials, and manufactures parts at speeds of up to five times faster than competing direct metal 3D printing technologies.

As a result, operating times and production costs are reduced, while the material also requires far less energy than laser-based hardware. Instead, an oven provides the heat necessary to fuse the metal. Despite the absence of a laser, the French developers argue that they are already achieving a degree of accuracy that would not be possible with competing metal 3D printers, while it is also safer to use and less polluting than those alternatives.

While the researchers are still faced with several development challenges, they say that this initial result is a major step forward and very promising. Among others, they are currently looking into the development of resins that can optimize the technology for metal casting application – which is currently widely used in aeronautic and automotive industries. Several industrial partners are already involved for testing.

Prodways is thus working hard to strengthen their metal 3D printing capacity, which is being further boosted by their subsidiary Initial – a French company that provides services to a wide range of clients. Right now, they have 10 machines dedicated to metal manufacturing up and running, and have just added a new metal fusing machine to their arsenal to ensure that they meet the manufacturing requirements of the aeronautics and medical sectors. Once Prodways’ new technology hits the shelves, they will rapidly grow into a major player in the metal 3D printing business.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



Maybe you also like:


kb wrote at 10/8/2016 1:44:31 PM:

@I.AM.Magic The printed part isn't the final part. Only a mold.

I.AM.Magic wrote at 10/5/2016 9:09:56 AM:

So, it is an SLS machine? Nothing new, right? Old old tech of fusing resin + metal powder. The part is as strong as the binder, not the metal.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive