Oct 12, 2018 | By Thomas

Digital Metal, part of the metal powder-producing Höganäs Group in Sweden, has launched a fully automated production concept for 3D metal printing.

Last year, Digital Metal started production on the DM P2500, a high-precision binder jetting metal 3D printer that can produce tiny bespoke objects and high-precision components at scale. The company claims it can print 42-micron layers at speeds of up to 100 cubic centimeters per hour. Until now, this binder-jetting technology has already enabled production of more than 300,000 components. Several Digital Metal DM P2500 3D printers are operating in serial production to produce series of up to 40,000 components.

Now, things are changing. While Digital Metal will continue to offer a 3D printing service to new and existing clients, it’s also now add automation to the production process.

“Most AM technologies show a very low level of automation”, says Ralf Carlström, General Manager at Digital Metal. “Our aim is to change that. With the new no-hand production line, our customers can further improve their productivity and lower the production costs. Almost all manually intensive work can be eliminated and in addition the powders removed in the cleaning machine can be recirculated in the process, thus minimizing waste. As we see it, the Digital Metal technology is now applicable for serial production of high-volume components.”

According to Digital Metal, the majority of the process steps will be handled by a robot, which will "eliminate practically all manual work thus further increasing productivity." The robot will load the 3D printer with build boxes and then move the boxes for post-processing. The post-processing automation of powder removal is performed using a CNC-operated de-powdering machine and a pick-and-place robot. Once the remaining metal powder is removed and recycled, the parts are then placed on sintering plates. The main robot then moves the plates to the sintering furnace for combined debinding and sintering, either in batches or for continuous production.

Digital Metal says that the introduction of automation during the powder removal step is a first step towards fully automation production. During de-powdering process, the CNC-controlled movements are based on the information from the printing process. All removed powder is collected and recycled without any degeneration of properties.

“We believe there is a huge potential for our unique technology,” says Ralf Carlström. “Not only is it very fast and cost-effective, it is also able to create complicated and highly detailed designs with wide material choice.”



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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