Digital Metal, part of the metal powder-producing Höganäs Group in Sweden, has started production on the DM P2500, a high-precision binder jetting metal 3D printer that can produce “smaller and more intricate components than any previous technology.”
For four years, Sweden’s Digital Metal has produced tiny bespoke objects and high-precision components at scale using its proprietary binder jetting technology, making around 200,000 individual pieces for customers across several industries.
Now, things are changing. While Digital Metal will continue to offer a 3D printing service to new and existing clients, it’s also going to allow the companies to do the printing themselves—by commercializing the DM P2500 3D printer.
A binder jetting machine that prints metal powders, the high-precision DM P2500 promises a lot. Digital Metal says it's “ideal for serial production and customized parts,” and claims it can print 42-micron layers at speeds of up to 100 cubic centimeters per hour. Better still, printed objects don’t require support structures.
In general, the DM P2500 is targeted at orgnizations working on a big scale—in every sense. Not only is it fast, the binder jetting 3D printer also has a roomy 2,500-cubic-centimeter build volume, allowing for up to 50,000 parts to be produced in a single print run.
“Our heritage, knowledge, and experience in metal powders combined with the development and evolution of our cutting-edge printer technology has enabled us to succeed where others have failed,” said a confident Ralf Carlström, General Manager at Digital Metal. “With the DM P2500 we are bringing to market a tried and tested 3D metal printer with the capability to produce objects with unparalleled accuracy and surface finish at high volume”
Other exciting technical specs on the DM P2500 include an XY resolution of 35 microns and an average surface roughness of Ra 6 microns before finishing. These numbers mean the printer can handle “complex architectures with medical-grade smoothness,” even on a tiny scale.
The 3D printer is also pretty efficient, as it reuses powder removed before sintering for future jobs. This, Digital Metal says, results in "high yield and low scrap rates, meaning downtime is kept to a minimum." The process is also adaptable for several materials, because the sintering happens after printing.
"We’ve seen relatively small (but previously unachievable) changes to the internal structure of components result in a 30 per cent improvement in overall product efficiency, which would have been impossible to produce using conventional methods," Carlström added. "As the design and engineering community begin to explore and understand what our highly repeatable and reliable technology enables, we believe we will see huge demand for this technology."
Excitingly, external companies have already started using the DM P2500, and Digital Metal is happy to see its fledglings leave the nest. In June 2017, a printer was installed for Centre Technique des Industries Mécaniques (CETIM), a French technological innovation hub for mechanical engineering. The machine has fired up two days after its arrival, and has purportedly delivered consistent results.
Elsewhere, Digital Metal has formed partnerships with a number of high-profile businesses to expand its additive manufacturing operations. In the U.S., for example, Digital Metal is working with Honeywell Aerospace to explore several joint 3D printing projects that will merge Honeywell’s expertise in aerospace engineering with Digital Metal’s additive manufacturing prowess.
“The binder jetting technology Digital Metal uses to print small metal parts has the potential for various applications within the Honeywell Aerospace program,” said Don Godfrey, an Engineering Fellow in Additive Manufacturing at Honeywell Aerospace. “We believe this will also be critical to applications in other key areas of the broader aerospace industry.”
Digital Metal says it will supply all necessary equipment on orders for the DM P2500, as well as “introductory and ongoing training and support” to ensure customers are getting the most out of their binder jetting 3D printer.
The company will initially look to identify customers in the automotive, dental, healthcare, aerospace, and luxury fashion sectors, and plans to exhibit at the TCT Show, September 26-28 in Birmingham, UK, and Formnext, November 4-17 in Frankfurt, Germany.