3D Printer HardwareAM IndustryDistributionMetal Additive Manufacturing

Laser Lines sells first Xact Metal 3D printer in the UK

The system will be used by the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering at University of Bolton

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Laser Lines, a well-established UK reseller of 3D printers and materials, has sold the first Xact Metal XM200C machine in the UK to the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME). The center will use the metal powder-bed fusion machine to help teach its students about metal additive manufacturing, to increase accessibility to the technology for the local motorsport industry and to enable the use of high-end materials.

NCME is based in a £13 million state of the art facility at the University of Bolton and offers cutting-edge, application and practical focussed courses to students that want to become experts in the performance-focused engineering that is needed to work in a Formula 1 team.

“We are incredibly excited to be the first customer of Xact Metal’s versatile machine in the UK,” said Robert Higham, senior lecturer and program leader at NCME. “Our job is to make sure our students are exposed to high-end, Formula 1-level equipment, methods and tools, and this purchase enables us to do just that.

Advancing cutting-edge materials

The new machine from Laser Lines will allow the NCME researcher to support the growing space and aerospace industry in the northwest of England in its journey to reap the benefits of additive design and manufacture. “In addition—Higham said—we intend to work with Scalmalloy, a high-performing aluminum alloy that is of great interest in aerospace, space and motorsport.”

The Xact Metal’s open architecture means it is capable of processing this aluminum alloy developed by APWORKS, but nobody has done it yet. Higham intends to develop the printing parameters so that this lower cost, smaller machine can produce Scalmalloy parts.

Laser Lines sells first Xact Metal XM200C 3D printer in the UK to National Centre for Motorsport Engineering at University of Bolton

Juan Mario Gomez, CEO at Xact Metal, added: “There is nothing we like better than getting the opportunity to work with leading education institutions such as the NCME, as we are dedicated to supporting the next generation of innovative manufacturing solutions powered by metal 3D printing.

“We are based with proximity to Penn State, one of the top-ranked research universities in the USA, so we have seen first-hand the creativity that is unleashed when students have the chance to use metal additive manufacturing for themselves. We can’t wait to see what Robert and his team at the NCME can do with the Xact Metal XM200C, taking its capabilities further into the production of Scalmalloy parts.”

Laser Lines sells first Xact Metal XM200C 3D printer in the UK to National Centre for Motorsport Engineering at University of Bolton

Low-cost metal 3D printing

“The Xact Metal XM200C is a very neat and compact machine. Some of the alternatives can fill a room, and you almost need a degree to be able to run them,” commented Paul Tickle, metals product specialist at Laser Lines, “This model has just the components that it needs and nothing more, producing parts that are exceptional for a much smaller capital investment.

For Laser Lines, the key to Xact Metal’s affordability is the high-speed gantry system that allows simple mirrors to move quickly and consistently above the powder-bed on an X-Y axis, unlike traditional powder-bed fusion machines that use a laser fired at a mirror attached to a galvanometer. “This brings the cost down so you can be up and running for less than £100,000, which is cheaper than a brand new 3-axis CNC machine,” said Tickle. “When you consider the time and money savings that come with additive manufacturing, you can see why the Xact Metal machines are a particularly attractive prospect for SMEs and universities.”


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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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