Mar 7, 2016 | By Alec

The global 3D printing industry is booming right now, and experts are eyeing several huge developments and innovations already. Increasingly, the Chinese market and 3D printing industry is becoming impossible to ignore. Interesting new 3D printers and 3D printing startups are appearing at a very high rate in the Chinese market, and yesterday Beijing-based company Yibo3D reached another very interesting milestone. At the China-Germany industrial park in Qingdao city, Shandong province, they unveiled the YBRP-140 SLM miniature metal 3D printer: China’s first small-scale metal 3D printer and the first metal 3D printer in the sub-1 million RMB ($150,000 USD) range.

As you might know, metal 3D printers usually only come in a room-filling full cabinet size, can cost millions of dollars and are almost exclusively used for the production of high quality metal parts for aerospace, aviation and other high tech sectors. In a nutshell, the YBRP-140 SLM miniature metal 3D printer is a reaction to that exclusive product. Though like many others equipped with Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology, which uses laser beams to melt metal particles into very exact shapes, it is only about the size of an ordinary household washing machine. But like its competitors, it can also be used to create multi-material high performance metal parts. Costing just a fraction of many other SLM 3D printers, it could open industrial grade 3D printing up to a wide range of other startups and industries.

The company behind the YBRP-140 SLM 3D printer, Yibo3D (Yibo Sanwei), is specifically thinking about the jewelry industry. At the unveiling, they further revealed that their 3D printer is also a perfect option for the 3D printing of unique jewelry pieces in gold and other materials. However, high level aerospace materials are also on the table, including iron, nickel-based, copper-based alloys, titanium and others. This makes it a perfect option for 3D printing small, high precision and high density parts, such as low-volume jewelry, research tools, and medical equipment such as teeth prostheses.

And just because it’s cheaper than other metal 3D printers, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sacrificing much quality. “Taking the example of iron materials, the machine can 3D print in layer heights of just 0.02mm. Furthermore, if we make a 100 mm part, accuracy will deviate as little as 0.1 mm,” they say. That would indeed make it suitable for a wide number of applications, and not just jewelry.

It’s an interesting machine, but in part also because it reflects a changing climate in China that is very open to 3D printing innovation. In part, that is caused by a huge manufacturing sector that is keen to innovate and a growing consumer market. But of course we can’t forget that the Chinese government is also strongly backing the technology. Launching their “Made in China 2025” program in 2014, with the goal of encouraging 3D printer production and sales, the Chinese government has recognized it as key development technology. The first results of policy changes can already be seen, as sales have been growing exponentially since 2014. With just 34,000 units being shipped within China in 2014, that number has already more than doubled over 2015 (reaching 77,000 units).

Experts have predicted that trend will strongly increase over 2016, but not just in the consumer market. 2016 could be the year of metal 3D printing in China, with the market expected to grow to ten billion RMB ($1.5 billion USD) this year and demand increasing very quickly. Yibo3D’s YBRP-140 SLM 3D printer is just one of the first signs of that growth, and it will be very interesting to see what the coming months bring.



Posted in 3D Printer



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John P. McCarthy wrote at 5/11/2016 10:18:28 AM:

That's an another step from China in the Innovative manufacturing sector. Yes, they should have revealed manufactured metal jewelry instead of showing only the machine. Nevertheless, China will prove it in near future that they have successfully entered in 3D metal printing industry by having tie ups with big 3D printing companies

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