Did 3D printing metal just get a hundred times faster?

May 03, 2017 - 10:30am
DM Studio System

Last week, Desktop Metal, Burlington, Mass., a two-year-old startup, demonstrated the Desktop Metal (DM) Studio System, which it calls an “office-friendly” metal 3D-printing system for rapid prototyping, and the DM Production, a printer for the manufacturing market it claims is 100 times faster than current laser sintering machines.

The systems are based on a new approach to metal 3D printing—Single Pass Jetting (SPJ), which was created by the inventors of the binder jetting and the single pass inkjet processes. Single Pass Jetting is bi-directional, the company says. “We combined all the necessary steps for printing so that whenever there is movement, there is printing.” Two full-width print bars containing over 32,000 jets work in conjunction with powder spreaders to spread powder and print in a single quick pass across the build area, jetting millions of droplets per second.

The system relies on Bound Metal Deposition (BMD), a proprietary process similar the widely used 3D printing process for plastics, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology.

Another advantage: Unlike laser-based processes, which weld parts to a build plate, parts created by the Production system are surrounded by loose powder, enabling the full use of the build envelope and higher productivity per build. Nesting software arranges parts to maximize the build area in all axes. The actual sintering takes place after the printing, in a ‘Microwave-enhanced sintering furnace.’ The company claims its DM Studio System is 10 times less expensive than existing metal prototyping technology.

The DM Studio System is available to reserve in May with shipping beginning in August 2017. The DM Production System is available to reserve in May for shipping beginning in 2018. More information is available here.

Related Glossary Terms

  • lapping compound( powder)

    lapping compound( powder)

    Light, abrasive material used for finishing a surface.

  • sintering


    Bonding of adjacent surfaces in a mass of particles by molecular or atomic attraction on heating at high temperatures below the melting temperature of any constituent in the material. Sintering strengthens and increases the density of a powder mass and recrystallizes powder metals.


Former Senior Editor

Michael Anderson, former senior editor at Cutting Tool Engineering magazine, holds a master's degree in written communication from Eastern Michigan University. He has been professionally writing about manufacturing technology since 1998, including more than 10 years at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.


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