The annual Additive Manufacturing Users Group Conference is in session this week through April 7th in St. Louis. Known more concisely as AMUG, this event has been promised to be bigger and better than ever, and according to those attending, some substantial products are being—and have been—introduced and unveiled along with five stimulating days full of presentations, workshops, competitions, and great opportunities for networking and exchanging ideas.
With so many users, technologies, and presentations to attend, surely it was hard to know which way to turn, but apparently one of the biggest draws has been that of XJet, with Chief Business Officer Dror Danai discussing their new technology that apparently brought in, and went on to wow, a large crowd. It’s not surprising that interest was enormous either, considering that 3D printing with metal is extremely popular today and XJet is offering up a new process that many are curious to find out more about—especially if it means faster, better, and cheaper.
We reported on XJet’s technology recently, with news that the Israeli metal 3D printing technology manufacturer, along with developing their NanoParticle Jetting metal 3D printing process, also secured $25 million in new investments due to quite a successful round of funding. The idea of using liquid metal droplets instead of metal powders represents an entirely new use of materials, not to mention that they are laid down with what is very similar to 2D inkjet technology, rather than lasers—and is scalable.
As was detailed at AMUG—along with their extensive list of investors—users are able to employ the technology by installing simple cartridges, allowing the material to be extruded through inkjet heads. While it remains to be seen how popular the technology will become, it certainly sounds as if it could make some positive changes for users who currently have to handle metal powders—with questions regarding safety and what procedures should be implemented growing into a fairly large conversation and concern about hazards during 3D metal printing. This new method may be exactly what has been in order not just for streamlined manufacturing, but also user safety.
Inside, the cartridge holds metal particles surrounded by a liquid bubble that is the catalyst for allowing the material to be released, deposited, with heat evaporating the liquid and leaving behind only metal. According to Dror, during the inkjet printing process 221 droplets are deposited per second. Other manufacturers are going to have to work hard to beat something that dramatic—especially a process that is promised to be up to five times faster than using laser 3D printing.
Another important benefit of NanoParticle Jetting that is going to catch the attention of most experienced users is that while supports are still used, they are of another kind not requiring one to remove them by hand or machine. This eliminates all the opportunity to destroy a model in post-production due to lack of precision, as well as eliminating so much waste that can be seen in the more traditional method. While the material for this support removal process is still under embargo, it essentially works to melt away supports easily—and also sinters the part.
The ultimate reward should be an easier, faster process that costs less—offering up nearly all the benefits of 3D printing. This new technology should also offer designers more latitude in geometry, as well as unheard of strength and thickness.
While the company currently has seven machines operating with the new technology in their Israel headquarters of Rehovot, it will not officially be unveiling the technology until RAPID 2016, to be held in Orlando from May 16-19 at the Orange County Convention Center. 3DPrint.com will be on the scene, and you can look forward to more detailed information on XJet’s revolutionary new technology. Discuss in the XJet 3D Printing Technology forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: TCT Magazine]