After reading the title of this article, many of you probably are thinking that this post must be some kind of extremely early April Fools joke. After all, most laser sintering machines, which work with metal alloys, cost upwards of $1 million, some even much more than that. Back in July of this year, we saw a company called MatterFab announce their entrance into the realm of more affordable powder bed fusion metal 3D printers. Although a price was not announced, speculation still has these printers priced well above what most individuals could afford (likely $80-$120k).
Today, a Perth Australia-based company, called Aurora Labs may have just opened the metal laser sintering 3D printer space wide open with the launch of a Kickstarter project for their S1, S2, and S2+ 3D metal printers.
There is no doubt that if the cost of metal 3D printers were to come down in price to under $10,000 that the world would change as we know it. There are only so many applications one can use printed plastics for. The ability to fabricate metal objects at the push of a button, from one’s own garage could be transformative, not only for the manufacturing industry, but society as a whole. This is why, if legitimate, the Aurora 3D printer Kickstarter project may be one of the most exciting projects we have seen yet.
The company is working on three different printers, starting at just $4,499 AUD (approximately $4,000 USD) for the S1, if you are one of their earliest backers. All three printers are capable of printing with a variety of metals, including:
- 316 Stainless Steel
- 420 Stainless Steel
- Inconel 625
- Inconel 718
- Hastelloy C
- Mild Steel
- Over a dozen others
The main difference between the various printers, the S1, S2, and S2+, are their sizes, number of powder rollers, and price. Below is a quick comparison:
- S1 – Build Envelope: 150mm x 150mm x 200mm, 2 powder feeders – Kickstarter Price: $3,998 USD
- S2 – Build Envelope: 150mm x 150mm x 200mm, 3 powder feeders – Kickstarter Price: $6,219 USD
- S2+ – Build Envelope: 180mm x 180mm x 500mm, 3 powder feeders – Kickstarter Price: $7,110 USD
Currently the printers can all use, both direct metal laser sintering, as well as powder bed fusion techniques. The S2 and S2+ will be capable of printing with multiple metals at once, and according to the company their internal testing showed that objects printed with these three machines had a 99.5% density level, similar to a high quality casting.
“We see a time in the near future where every engineering workshop has a couple of these and most homes have one as well,” stated the company. “With this machine people can build a 10,000 pound (4,500 kg) thrust rocket motor – for about the price of a plasma TV ($500-$1,000) in materials.”
If this company does come through, it will certainly make waves within the industry. They have also stated that they are working on a selective laser sintering system for these printers, as well as a capability to print with plastics and ceramics as well. Let’s hear your thoughts on these incredible machines. Have Aurora Labs, and their founder David Budge actually figured out a way to bring metal 3D printers into the home affordably? Discuss in the Aurora Labs metal printer forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the company’s Kickstarter pitch video provided below.