3D printing with metal may be getting easier & cheaper

Another item to add to the list of things I probably don’t need but would really like to have…  Desktop Metal has announced some details as well as pricing behind it’s new 3D metal printers, which will supposedly print objects out of different alloys of steel, aluminum, titanium and copper.  These parts are supposed to be similar in quality to more traditional injection molded items.  From the Tech Crunch article:





While metal 3D printers have been around for decades, they’ve been limited in terms of materials, speed and accessibility. That’s, in part, because metals have such a high melting point. It’s not as easy to shape them as it is to shape plastics, for example.


Desktop Metal calls its core technology “microwave enhanced sintering.” The company’s printers put down layers of metal and ceramic powders that are mixed in a soft polymer. The cartridges and alloys that work with the printers are made by Desktop Metal and other major providers in additive manufacturing. Once a mixed-media item is printed, it goes into a furnace where it is rapidly cooked. Heat burns off the polymer. Gases are filtered by charcoal.


Meanwhile, the metal is fused together but at a temperature that won’t make it melt and lose its shape. Wherever ceramic was laid down in a printed design, metal remains separated and doesn’t fuse. The pieces created by Desktop Metal machines can be separated by hand.


As for pricing, the Desktop Metal Studio system will ship in September and cost $120,000 to purchase or $3,250/month to rent.  The Production system will ship in 2018 and cost $480,000 to purchase.  I can think that this will be great in hospital applications if the printed objects are medical safe.  Otherwise, I would just like this to play around with, but I definitely don’t have a spare $120k laying around to play with…  Maybe Luke and Linus can get one to play with in the studio…  Just think of all the camera mounts they could make or other pieces of unique computer brackets and bits and pieces…

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