It seems every company is rushing towards the next big breakthrough in metal printing. Just this year we’ve had quite a few new machines from various firms (such as Desktop Metal or Xact Metal). Along with this machines, we’ve also covered bold new techniques. In keeping with this trend, California based 3DEO has just revealed its new Intelligent Layering process. The new method promises high volumes at drastically low costs.
The company has also announced that it will join various markets including industrial, automotive, and medical industries. It will offer its services as a parts high-end parts provider for businesses in these sectors. The prints meet the MPIF Standard used by virtually every business in the manufacturing industry.
What is the Intelligent Layering Process?
The new process has 6 core steps. The first involves depositing a layer of the powder. The 3DEO printer spreads the powder across an 8in x 8in build-tray. Then, the machine applies a binder to the layer before a CNC cutter reshapes the edges of the part. Next, it reapplies the powder for a new layer to continue the build. Eventually, the print has to be sintered and finally finished.
While intelligent layering uses off-the-shelf metal powders typically used in Metal Injection Molding, it is actually more reminiscent of binder jetting (though not entirely). However, it has fundamental steps that set it apart from both those methods. For example, instead of precise deposition of binders it uses a low-cost sprayhead. This sprayhead increases the repeatability of the process more so than if it were a laser or inkjet printhead. It also allows for lower maintenance costs, as compared to binder jetting or laser sintering.
Intelligent layering provides companies with the ability to produce in high volumes at very low costs. It has a rare position as a high volume metal printing method. Seeing as how the machine puts out very precise and repeatable results, it can be considered fairly reliable. Currently, the company has shown that parts meet significant quality standards.
This method is particularly good for continuous shapes like cylinders. Due to the CNC cutter, the machine can lay down and cut multiple layers at a time. The CNC mill also vastly improves the print resolution. It also incurs the benefits of binder jetting (high strength and durable parts).
Another benefit is that there will soon be a wide range of materials available for this process. The company is manufacturing in 17-4PH stainless steel today, but many materials are available for the process, such as titanium, cobalt-chrome, inconel, and tool steels.
A special thanks to Matt Sand from 3DEO for providing all this valuable information.