In April, Desktop Metal unveiled its greatly anticipated 3D printing systems, the Desktop Metal Studio System and the Desktop Metal Production System. The young Boston-area company garnered a great deal of interest and investments from its very beginnings, even before it had so much as a prototype to offer. Investors put a lot of faith into the company, and it paid off, as the DM Studio System and the DM Production System wowed everyone when they were finally introduced, and making quite an impression at RAPID in May and across the pond at TCT Show and formnext this autumn as sales expand internationally.
The Studio System is a metal 3D printing system designed for the office – the first of its kind, Desktop Metal says. It features a new 3D printing technology called Bound Metal Deposition (BMD), which involves the extrusion of rods of bound metal. It’s 10 times cheaper than other metal 3D printing technology, and the full system includes a 3D printer, a debinder, and a sintering furnace that can all fit into an office or onto a shop floor.
Desktop Metal expects customers to do great things with the system, and will soon find out as it begins to ship units out to its first customers through its Pioneer Program. The first “pioneer” to receive the system will be Google’s Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) Group.
“This marks the first time our team will be able to use metal 3D printing for rapid prototyping of our hardware parts,” said David Beardsley, manager of Google’s ATAP. “For prototyping, we have previously relied upon casting or using plastic 3D printing. Now with the Studio System, our team will experience shorter lead times, faster product development cycles and the benefits of functional prototypes in an array of metals on demand and in the lab. We look forward to exploring and developing potential applications for many of our projects.”
Other Pioneer Program customers include:
- US Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division
- Built-Rite Tool & Die
- The Technology House
- Lumenium LLC
“We are working toward upending over a century’s worth of established technology through an entirely novel approach,” Lumenium CEO William Anderson told 3DPrint.com.
“A major factor in succeeding is having the most powerful cutting edge tools at our disposal. Desktop Metal is emerging as a critical element, and we can already see from the benchmarking exercise that they understand our process and will enable new levels of performance. Of real appeal to Lumenium is Desktop Metal’s approach to both prototyping and mass production. The Studio System allows us to design and test prototype 3D engine parts with complex internal features simply not possible with conventional production techniques. In additional, our Desktop Metal test parts came back on average 40% lighter than our equivalent CNC machined versions.”
3DPrint.com spoke with Desktop Metal CEO and Co-Founder Ric Fulop this morning about the Studio System and how it feels to finally get it into the hands of customers.
“We’ve been working on this since we started the company two years ago, and it’s a nice milestone. Now we have to make sure, we have all our focus on making our customers successful. Our core competency is in making the metal process easy to use. When you consider the difference between what we do and metal powder bed fusion — the fact you can remove metal supports easily, that it’s the only system on the market that fits through any door, you can just plug in, and you don’t need any special equipment for metal debindering or sintering — none of our competitors do anything like it,” he told us.
“What differentiates our products is the ease of use, and our availability of lots of materials where the user doesn’t have to be a metallurgist. When you think of powder bed fusion and when the first machines came out, you needed almost a PhD or advanced degree to run those machines. Our goal is to make it super affordable and super easy to use. The starting price is $50,000 [for just the printer], which is an unheard of price; turnkey price is $120K for everything, including sintering for the full print. Our competitors don’t really do that, they use rinky-dink approaches to sintering. We’ll give you the ability to sinter full-size parts.”
Desktop Metal is pleased to have Google as its first customer, Fulop added.
“They do a lot of hardware. We know them as a search engine, but they do a large amount of hardware development, from phones to computing and more. They’re a great first customer, their applications are really broad. The Studio System gives them the ability to print in the same environment they’re already using 3D printing — where they do plastics, they can now do metal, and that’s a big deal. We have other customers, a major toolmaker, printing tool inserts that go into our printer — many plastic parts in our printer are made using metal tooling printed on our printer from Built-Rite. The ability to print tooling is big for us,” he continued.
“It’s all in a super easy to use package, changing materials takes less than 60 seconds, and you can quickly swap extruders to avoid contamination between materials; none of our competitors have that functionality. And our software is an end-to-end web-based solution that walks you through the whole process and makes it super easy to use.”
2018 will see the company working hard to get the Studio System into the hands of as many people as possible, Fulop said. In the second half of the year, they’ll be talking more about the Production System as well, but the beginning of the year is all about the Studio System.
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