Jan 6, 2017 | By Julia

In the race for 3D printing metal affordable, Markforged has struck gold. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the industry heavyweight unveiled a groundbreaking new system for 3D printing metals, and the impressive new printer capable of doing it.

the Metal X

Meet the Metal X, Markforged’s new 3D printer that uses a breakthrough technology called Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM). Parts are 3D printed layer-by-layer in a technique not unlike FDM, but here, the 3D printer lays down materials ranging from titanium to aluminum. The process uses a metal powder surrounded by plastic binders, which are removed after printing. The 3D printed part is then sintered into engineering metals. Interestingly, ADAM technology sinters the entire part at once, allowing metal crystals to pass through the bonded layers, maximizing strength. The whole process leaves you with a fully constructed, dense metal object that’s suitable for industrial, automotive, medical and aerospace industries.

But the most impressive aspect may be the cost: Markforged’s Metal X weighs in at just under $100,000 USD, a vast reduction from previous models priced up into the millions.

While a clear evolution from Markforged’s earlier efforts in carbon fiber 3D printing technology, ADAM and the Metal X also come hot on the heels of developments such as Filamet, a range of filaments by The Virtual Foundry that lets makers print metallic objects directly from their desktop 3D printers. Following an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign back in February 2015, The Virtual Foundry went public with Filamet, sparking new possibilities in the race for affordable 3D printing metal.

And Markforged CEO Greg Mark is eager to come first in that race. “Until today, the story of metal 3D printing has been million-dollar machines that fill a room,” says Mark.

“With the introduction of the Metal X, metal production is easier and more available than ever. Manufacturers and machine shops looking to augment CNC machining or find alternatives now have an answer.

“This revolution is not just about making metal parts – it’s also about making plastic parts from a 3D printed metal mold created in days, instead of months,” Mark explains. “Our mission is to help companies make better products, and get them to market faster.”

metal parts 3D printed by the Metal X

In addition to 3D printing metal relatively cheaply and easily, the Metal X allows makers the option of creating highly complex shapes and geometries that cannot be produced with today’s metal printers. Printing lighter parts with advanced functionality has just become a lot more viable.

Furthermore, the Metal X will also inspect your part during 3D printing thanks to an in-process laser inspection that’s linked to cloud-based software Eiger. On the software, users can inspect each layer as it’s being printed to inspect how the part has been laid down.

a metal part 3D printed by the Metal X

As part of the CES 2017 launch, the Metal X will print high-end stainless steels such as 17-4 and 303. Tool Steel for injection molding applications, as well as several other metals, remain under development and should be available later this year.

Currently the Metal X is available to order starting at $99,500 and will ship in September 2017.



Posted in 3D Printer



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