Which metal 3D printer is right for my business?
Paul Tickle is Laser Lines’ Metals Product Specialist. Here he outlines the benefits of each of our metal 3D printers.
If you are looking for a metal additive manufacturing machine, we have plenty of options for you at Laser Lines. After selling and supporting 3D printing machines for over 25 years, we have amassed a lot of knowledge that we are happy to share with you.
All of our metal machines are perfect for prototyping and short production runs, but each of them has its own characteristics. The best one for you will depend on the sort of product you want to produce, so to discuss which one fits your needs, just give us a call on 01295 672599. In the meantime, here are the main types of customer that tends to select each machine:
Xact Metal XM200C
For small to medium businesses that are looking for an entry point into metal 3D printing, the Xact Metal XM200C is ideal. It uses a system called powder bed fusion, where a laser melts thin layers of metal powder to create parts, using a CAD file as the template.
This is our best value system thanks to a technology known as the Xact Core system. This keeps the price of the system lower than its rivals, while maintaining the quality of the output. The Xact Core system uses a fast gantry to direct the laser by moving simple mirrors above the powder bed on an X-Y axis. This avoids the use of complex Galvanometers and F-theta lens. At 500mm/sec it’s fast enough for most customers, and thanks to the fine point laser, the surface finish and detail is excellent.
The build volume of this machine is 127 x 127 x 127mm so if an SME is looking for a great value entry machine, this is the one to go for.
Xact Metal XM200S
While most customers will be happy with the speed the XM200C produces parts, if you need to produce them faster, you can step up to the Xact Metal XM200S model. This uses the same powder bed fusion technique, but instead of a gantry, it employs an F-theta lens and galvanometers to control the laser.
This makes it about 30% faster at producing a part than the XM200S, although the quality of the end result is just as good. It also has a 15-inch touchscreen that lets you change the build parameters and see the job queue.
Desktop Metal Studio System
Customers that have gained a lot of experience with plastic 3D printing, but need to print with a stronger material, or those that know they will need to move from producing plastic to metal parts at some point, really love this machine. The Desktop Metal Studio System is also ideal for those that wish to print parts within an office-type environment.
Using a technique that is very similar to the Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) process we have sold and supported on our Stratasys line of plastic 3D printers for decades, the Desktop Metal Studio is very familiar to anyone who has worked with those, or similar, machines in the past.
The process is called Bound Metal Deposition (BMD), where metal rods are heated and extruded onto the build plate in the form of a bead, building up a part layer by layer. The rods contain metal powder that has been bound together with a polymer and wax binder.
Once the part has been printed, it goes through two further machine processes – a debinder, which prepares the parts for sintering by dissolving the primary binder in a special fluid, and a furnace that completes the process by sintering the part. This fuses the metal particles together and removes any of the remaining binder.
Desktop Metal Shop System
The Shop System is the world’s first binder jetting system designed for machine shops. For the first time, traditional machine shops can leverage affordable, high-quality binder jetting technology to print end-use metal parts with unparalleled speed, print quality, and productivity.
The Shop System’s end-to-end solution works by jetting binder onto metal powder over the print bed, utilising up to 70,000 print jets. The printer spreads metal powder across the build bed and precisely jets a binding agent to bond loose powder and define part geometry. Layer by layer, metal powder and binder is deposited until the entire build volume is packed with bound parts and surrounding loose powder.
Once an entire build is complete, the build box is removed and placed in a powder station for bulk and fine depowdering. All loose powders are removed from the parts and recovered via a built-in powder recycling system with powder sieving. Depowdered parts are placed onto trays and put into the sintering furnace. This removes the remaining binder and fuses the metal particles together forming a fully dense part.
With configurable build volumes from 350 x 220 x 50mm up to 350 x 220 x 200mm and a wide range of materials, the Shop System is ideal for customers looking to free up CNC machine time or make low production runs economical.
Additive Industries MetalFAB1
With a build chamber measuring 420 x 420 x 400mm, this modular system is for those in medium to large companies that need to produce larger parts. Typically we tend to see customers in the aerospace, Formula One, automotive and oil & gas industries getting the best use from it.
A powder bed fusion system, the MetalFAB1 can support up to four lasers. But the best thing about this system is that it can start small and grow with your business. Starting with a three-module system customers can add further modules and lasers to meet business demands. The system can be fitted with up to 4 lasers, this means the customer can add lasers as production increases – they are not restricted at the time of manufacture as extra lasers can be fitted at any time. Additional modules can also be added including up to 4 build volume modules: a stress relief furnace module, part removal and build place finishing modules and part inspection module. This saves time when manufacturing as there is no need to move the part around the factory wasting valuable time and money.
The MetalFAB1 system is completely automated and as production demands increase, so does the MetalFAB1; incorporating a robot to remove the build plate from each chamber and loading it into the next one. Powder handling has also been considered and is fully automated with this system, all powder is automatically removed from the build chamber, sieved and stored ready for the next build. The operator never comes into contact with loose powder. This powerful and versatile machine can run as a 24/7, lights-out part production centre, and it is already working wonders for the likes of Sauber, Audi and Alfa Romeo.