ExOne is further cementing its place as a leader in binder jetting technologies today, with the unveiling of two new products: InnoventPro, an advanced entry-level binder jetting system for metals, ceramics and composites; and the X1D1, an automated guided vehicle for the company’s X1 160Pro production system. Both systems are yet to be commercially released and complement ExOne’s existing portfolio of binder jetting solutions.
Innovate with the InnoventPro
First, let’s dive into the company’s newly unveiled system, the InnoventPro. ExOne has provided a preview of its upcoming system, which is billed as “a major upgrade to the Innovent+”. The entry level binder jetting system will be available in a larger format (actually, it will come in two sizes, a three-liter and five-liter) and offer much faster printing rates of up to 700 cc/hour. The Innovent+, to compare, has a build volume of 0.676 L and a build rate of up to 166 cc/hour.
The InnoventPro is characterized by two particularly interesting features. The first is a recirculating printhead module—the same type integrated in the X1 25Pro and X1 160Pro metal 3D printers. The production-grade printhead enables users to easily transition from R&D to high-volume manufacturing. The printhead also enables InnoventPro users to leverage ExOne’s particulate binders, used extensively by the company’s research department, on a commercial system.
This brings us to the second innovative aspect of the InnoventPro: the system will be compatible with ExOne’s new NanoFuse binders, which are inkjet-printable nanoparticle suspensions. The NanoFuse binders, which were first patented in 2018, will finally come to market with the InnoventPro, giving end users the tools to make larger parts using binder jetting and achieve finer detail.
The company explains: “Because nanoparticles fill in the interstices between powder bed particles and can bond at lower temperatures, they enable stronger green parts. In turn, this enables 3D printing of larger parts and finer features, delivering sharper corners and edges. These new binders can also improve the resolution and sinterability of high-demand metals, such as copper and aluminum.”
Rick Lucas, CTO and VP of New Markets at ExOne, added: “Just as the current Innovent+ served as the proving ground for our patented Triple ACT system, which now delivers industry-leading quality in metal binder jetting, the InnoventPro will offer groundbreaking new features in a commercial system. Our patented approach to 3D printing particulate inks in a print bed is opening new doors in binder jetting.”
ExOne states that its InnoventPro binder jetting system is ideal for use by researchers and a broad range of manufacturers, from machine and MIM shops to high-volume producers. The company adds that the new binder jetting system, compatible with over 20 metal, ceramic and composite materials, will be accessible through an incentive program to customers who buy an Innovent+ prior to the commercial release of the InnoventPro.
John Hartner, CEO of ExOne, added: “Customers around the world already love the Innovent+, and based on their feedback, we’re going to give them an updated entry-level system that’s bigger, faster and smarter than ever.”
More automation with X1D1
In addition to drawing the curtain on the InnoventPro, ExOne has also announced the upcoming release of a new automation system for its X1 160Pro extra-large production metal 3D printer. The X1D1 is an automated guided vehicle designed to transport powder-filled build boxes, which can weigh over 700 kg, throughout the binder jetting process.
As the X1 160Pro system begins shipping later this year (it was first launched in November 2019), customers will have the option to complement the large-format system with either a standard conveyance system or the new X1D1. The automated guided vehicle further automates the binder jetting process, facilitating the transport of build boxes for one or multiple systems.
“As part of our discussion with manufacturers, we’ve updated our vision for the production binder jetting work cell, developing an option that provides high-volume manufacturers with more intelligent flexibility and better use of factory space,” said Hartner.
The X1D1 AGV is designed to attach itself to the front of the X1 160Pro system and roll the 160-liter build box into and out of the machine. After the printing process is complete, the automated vehicle transports the build box to the curing oven and subsequently to an automated depowdering and cleaning station powered by robotic arms. The AGV will also carry the build box through other automated steps, which ExOne has yet to announce, before the final sintering process.
ExOne’s X1 160Pro system is its 10th metal 3D printer and the largest system in the company’s portfolio. The production system, capable of speeds of 10,000 cc/hour, is also supported by recently launched ExOne Scout, an Industry 4.0 app that provides real-time machine monitoring and analysis on smartphones, watches and other digital devices. The Scout app is itself enabled by Siemens’ MindSphere operating system.
“While ExOne’s production metal 3D printers will remain the centerpiece of our digital manufacturing vision, we’re looking to streamline the entire sequence of processes around our systems with automation, software and remote monitoring and controls,” Hartner concluded. “ExOne Scout and the X1D1 are moving us toward a complete digital manufacturing package that is smart and efficient.”