Nov 9, 2016 | By Alec
It’s been anticipated for a long time, but Xjet’s NanoParticle Jetting metal 3D printing technology is finally ready for primetime. First announced about a year ago, this proprietary inkjet printing technology for liquid metal promised to make the large scale manufacturing of custom metal parts cheaper and more efficient than ever before. While first unveiled at RAPID in Florida, visitors of next week’s Formnext in Frankfurt (to be held from 15 to 18 November) will be able to see a completely new and unexpected side of this 3D printing technology: the 3D printing of ceramic materials with the same level of detail and efficiency.
Xjet itself is an Israeli startup with the ambition to do for metal 3D printing what fellow Israeli company Objet (now part of Stratasys) did for plastic manufacturing. This ambition transformed into NanoParticle Jetting or NPJ 3D printing, which the company hailed as a groundbreaking new metal 3D printing solution back in May – one that could even bring 3D printing to mainstream manufacturing. In a nutshell, NPJ uses nanoparticles to create special liquid metals that are 3D printed into one-of-a-kind metal parts on the fly whilst introducing a new level of throughput and speed, unequaled accuracy and surface finish. What’s more, the technology should become significantly cheaper than Direct Metal Laser Sintering, as well as easier and safer to use.
As a result, NPJ 3D printing was immediately hailed as being perfect for the 3D printing titanium medical devices, such as knee implants, and even for aluminum parts for automotive and aerospace applications. “Using our inkjet technology we will be able to make customized metal manufacturing affordable for even small companies,” said Xjet CBO Dror Danai.
But it doesn’t end there, as Xjet has just announced that ceramic parts 3D printed with the same technology. Using the same principles, the NPJ 3D printer 3D printed these objects from layers of droplets containing ceramic nanoparticles. The extremely high temperatures within the build envelope subsequently cause the liquids to evaporate, forcing the ceramic nanoparticles to form a true ceramic and highly detailed part. These parts are subsequently sintered and supports are removed by hand.
This is a huge breakthrough, exactly because ceramic isn’t easily 3D printed at very high accuracy. “After many years of research, we are excited to have reached this milestone of development, producing another high quality material through NanoParticle Jetting (NPJ),” Hanan Gothait, CEO and Founder of XJet explained. “NPJ is a truly disruptive technology as it offers a totally new level of fine details, material properties and simple clean operation without the need to design or remove complex support structures.”
This ceramic breakthrough makes NPJ 3D printing even more widely applicable. “The expansion of NanoParticle Jetting to include ceramics will allow XJet to address an even wider range of applications, such as dental, medical and specific industrial applications,” added Xjet CBO Danai. “At formnext we will demonstrate how the usage of ink-jet technology, and it's very large tray, will encourage more industries to look at Ceramic Additive Manufacturing as an option for both customized parts and relatively large scale manufacturing of small parts.”
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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