Aurora Labs Slows Things Down to Advance Fast Metal 3D Printing

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“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

Speed generally impresses people, especially when it comes to 3D printing…the faster a part can be 3D printed, the better, particularly for metal additive manufacturing. This leads to faster production cycles, which means less cost. Australian technology startup Aurora Labs, which specializes in metal 3D printers and powders, developed its large-scale S-Titanium line of metal 3D printers specifically so they would be over 100 times faster than other machines on the market. So the company’s latest news may be a little surprising.

Aurora Labs has continued to advance the development of its Large Format technology, and announced this week that its prototype 3D printer is able to print out sample parts…slowly?

If this announcement surprises you, don’t panic – there’s a reason Aurora Labs wants its Large Format technology to 3D print slowly, which the company means in this instance as “a printing rate comparable to existing technology in the market,” but slower than the speed of the technology it’s targeting.

“Reaching the ability to print simple parts slowly is the latest of our outlined steps towards the development of our Large Format Technology,” explained David Budge, Managing Director of Aurora Labs. “When we talk about printing simple parts slowly, this is equivalent to the same speed of other metal 3D printers currently in the market, while printing complex parts rapidly is targeting speeds that are approximately 100 times faster than existing 3D-printers. We look forward to announcing the achievement of additional goals along the way as we advance the development, and ultimate commercialisation, of the technology.”

This ability to slowly 3D print simple parts is actually a major milestone, as it means that important components of the company’s Large Format technology have been proven. Slow 3D printing is just one of the important steps Aurora Labs is taking on the way to developing its Medium and Large Format Printers (MFP / LFP).

The company has already used its LFP prototype to print out many shapes and parts, and is reporting positive progress with both part density and speed of production. In initial tests, Aurora Labs found that it’s possible for the technology to reach a targeted print speed of 1 metric ton per day. Early ‘slow’ printing speeds are already capable of reaching at least 3 kg an hour.

 

The video above, filmed in real time, shows one layer of a plate being melted, as the first step in producing a 20 x 20 mm cube, and demonstrates how the company’s Large Format Technology and proof of concept machine operates before a layer of consumable 3D printing powder is added. While this doesn’t completely represent the actual 3D printing speed, it is a good example of how much potential the technology has.

 

This second video, also filmed in real time, demonstrates 3D printing at the slowest possible speed, and shows again a single layer of one 20 x 20 mm cube being printed at speed, but this time after the powder has been added. Both videos are evidence of advancements in the company’s Large Format Technology; however, more testing and development will be necessary to make sure that the print quality does not decrease when the speed is increased.

Aurora Labs hopes to achieve several important milestones in order to effectively demonstrate the progress for its innovative technology, as well as development for both the MFP and LFP, and this indicative timeline will hopefully be completed sometime in the next 10-11 months. The additional units mentioned are Unit 1, a second proof of concept machine for increasing testing, and Unit 2, the first of the MFP pre-production models the company will be showcasing at trade shows over the next year.

The LFP will eventually be able produce complex metal 3D printed parts at an extremely rapid rate of speed. As Aurora Labs has no global competitor with a 3D printer that combines its LFP’s targeted precision and speed, the company believes there will be plenty of commercial opportunities for its Large Format Technology.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images/Videos: Aurora Labs]

 

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