Upon delivery of its first P-50 production system and rebranding of its EnvisionTEC acquisition, Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM) continues to integrate its subsidiaries into its broader brand. The latest is the incorporation of ExOne, a key purchase to secure its binder jetting portfolio. This comes in the form of X-Seriesthe Desktop Metal-branded line of binder jetting systems for sand and ceramic 3D printing based on the purchase of ExOne.
The Series X is made up of three different models derived from ExOne’s pre-acquisition portfolio. The machines are described below:
- InnoventX: lower cost system from research, academia and low volume production. Its build envelope is 160 x 65 x 65 mm (6.3 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches).
- X25Pro: mid-size printer already used for mass production with a build volume of 400 x 250 x 250 mm (15.75 x 9.84 x 9.84 inches)
- X160Pro: “the world’s largest metal binder jetting system” with a build envelope of 800 x 500 x 400 mm (31.5 x 19.7 x 15.8 inches).
The printers will now be sold by Desktop Metal’s global support team and will include the company’s build preparation and sinter simulation software. It’s based on ExOne’s patented Triple ACT method, in which an ultrasonic vibrating hopper dispenses the right amount of powder for the builder layer, resulting in less clumping and greater precision. A knurled roller then distributes the powder evenly before a separate roller compacts the material. By separating these steps, the company is able to improve the quality of the part before sintering.
These machines are capable of processing a variety of materials with a diverse range of powder sizes, from three to 100 microns. Densities of 97-99% or more can be achieved, rivaling or exceeding those of metal injection molding or gravity casting. Surface roughness as low as 4 µm (Ra) can be achieved right out of the oven, before any subsequent post-processing.
“Desktop Metal’s X-Series printers give customers more choices than ever before when it comes to binder jetting additive manufacturing,” said Ric Fulop, co-founder and CEO of Desktop Metal. “Our team is aggressively moving additive manufacturing into mass production with a focused strategy of production-capable printers, high-performance materials and key applications. Binder jetting is the key technology that delivers all the benefits additive manufacturing has to offer at scale, from waste reduction to more efficient and lower-risk supply chains.
ExOne machines compare to Desktop Metal’s existing metal 3D printers which include:
- The studio systemwhich does not rely on the binder jetting, but on a form of bonded metal extrusion and has a build volume of 30 x 20 x 20 cm (12 x 8 x 8 in).
- Shop systemswhose build size ranges from 350 x 220 x 50 mm (13.8 x 8.7 x 2.0 inch) to 350 x 220 x 200 mm (13.8 x 8.7 x 7.9 inch)
- Production systemsconsisting of the P1, with a build volume of 200 x 100 x 40 mm (7.9 x 3.9 x 1.6 in), and the P-50, with a build volume of 490 x 380 x 260 mm ( 19.2 x 15 x 10.2 in).
Of course, there are details other than build volume that are important to note. For example, Desktop Metal’s original binder jetting machines are designed to use the company’s single-pass jetting method. This technique is described as delivering unprecedented throughput, one of the original value propositions presented by Desktop Metal when it emerged from stealth.
However, the product was slow to come to market, with the highly anticipated P-50 production system only seeing its first shipment in February of this year. As the company attempted to introduce the technology to the public, the acquisition of EnvisionTEC could provide the company with much-needed revenue. ExOne’s purchase was more recent, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how the new machines fit into the larger catalog, as they don’t offer a once-through jetting.
So, just looking at the portfolio in terms of size, we see the machines lined up from smallest to largest as follows: InnoventX, the Studio System, the P-1 Production System, the Shop Systems, X25Pro, the P-50 Production System , and the X160Pro. While the technologies vary here, from bonded metal deposition to triple ACT to once-through jetting, there’s certainly a lot of overlap in terms of mid-range build sizes, so it’ll be interesting to see how these machines are marketed and to what types of users . Maybe we’ll see the P-1 or some shop systems phased out or we’ll see the Series X upgraded to include the once-through jet.
To learn more about the Metal Binder Jetting market, the various players and how they will take over the midsize market, see our latest 3DPrint.com PRO article.
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