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Metal binder jetting takes off at Shapeways and Xometry

If AM service providers are good indicator, mass production is coming

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Metal binder jetting, in particular via ExOne‘s more established technology, is finally entering large-scale production. In particular, two major AM service providers  Xometry and Shapeways, which target different audiences, have both scaled up their activities with this technology.

Xometry, a leading AI-enabled marketplace for on-demand manufacturing, just introduced instant quoting on metal binder jetting, in its Instant Quoting Engine. The parts will be made by ExOne as Xometry’s partner.

AI-enabled metal binder jetting

“We’re thrilled to add another 3D printing process to our Instant Quoting Engine in partnership with ExOne,” said Bill Cronin, Xometry’s Chief Revenue Officer. “Our customers can now get quotes on affordable, high-strength metal additive parts in just seconds. The new capability is the latest example of the flexibility of our platform and our drive to expand the manufacturing processes offered through our marketplace.”

Metal binder jetting can produce metal parts at a fraction of the cost of other metal parts with virtually no design limitations. The speed and affordability of binder jetting make it ideal for industries that need high strength parts such as aerospace, automotive, medical, dental, oil and gas industries.

“Whether customers are interested in low or high volumes, our technology offers a fast and affordable option in a wide range of metals,” said John Hartner, ExOne’s CEO. “That includes X1 Metal 420i, a steel-bronze matrix that is one of the most affordable and durable 3D printed metals on the market today.”

Binder jetting for the masses

In the meantime, Shapeways is also actively promoting its metal binder jetting activities. The company, citing 3dpbm’s market-leading metal AM segment study, confirmed that metal 3D printing is gaining momentum as metal binder jetting is proving well-suited for both enterprise and Industrial applications

Shapeways and ExOne, recently held a webinar titled “Metal 3D Printing: Fast, Affordable and Flexible with Binder Jetting”, highlighting five takeaways to consider when optimizing the production of high-performance metal parts using the latest advancements in digital manufacturing solutions:

One, citing 3dpbm Research’s own findings, is that the market for metal additive manufacturing is expected to grow to more than $30 billion by 2030. Clearly, this technology is gaining rapid traction in supporting demanding applications, especially for aerospace/aviation, automotive, electronics, healthcare/medical and oil/gas. Shapeways and ExOne have already collaborated for several years to produce stainless steel parts printed on ExOne binder jet 3D printers.

Binder jet printing is proving well suited for affordable, high-volume production of the most complex geometries with the throughput needed to drive high-volume production comparable to traditional manufacturing methods, such as metal injection molding (MIM) and metal casting. Binder jetting for metals, ceramics and composite powders is capable of a variety of output forms, including bonded, porous, infiltrated and high-density (97+%) sintered product forms.

ExOne InnoventPro X1D1 product release

In addition, binder jetting 3D printing can produce part densities comparable to traditional manufacturing and often better than MIM or common powder metallurgy. Shapeways offers two materials that are designed for optimum results using binder jet printing: X1 Metal 4201 – an affordable, highly durable steel and bronze matrix combination, as well as a high-density 316L stainless steel with MIM properties.

No matter the industry or product, finding ways to do business in an eco-friendly manner has become a top enterprise priority. While traditional manufacturing methods typically rely on cutting and trimming away materials that then are discarded, binder jet metal 3D printing significantly reduces waste. This facilitates the production of parts featuring organic shapes and complex geometries with a level of precision that doesn’t generate debris volumes that must be cleaned, recycled and discarded. Moreover, ExOne recycles its powders and binders to provide heightened sustainability of its materials, processes and machines.

To ensure optimal results, it’s important to follow best practices for determining and addressing critical product design considerations, encompassing wall thickness, font and detail, interior holes and cavities, inside corners as well as knife and pointed edges. Shapeways leverages its expertise working with the latest materials and technologies, along with experience supporting the most demanding applications, to address top design parameters while giving designers the freedom to produce parts previously not possible with traditional manufacturing methods.

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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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