Formnext, which is coming up next week, is always a setting for big announcements and product reveals. Last year, Polish company 3D Lab presented its first original machine – the ATO One, the first metal powder atomizer working in a laboratory standard. 3D Lab had been around for a decade but had until then been a service bureau and retailer of 3D Systems 3D printers, so the introduction of its first machine was a big deal. Since introducing the ATO One, 3D Lab has received several pre-orders and has spent the past year perfecting the machine, and now as this year’s formnext rolls around the company is preparing to unveil the final version of the product: the ATO Lab.
According to 3D Lab, the ATO Lab is the first compact machine of its kind capable of atomizing small amounts of metal powders. It was designed for research on new materials, but has a number of other applications as well. Other metal atomizers on the market cost well over $1 million, but ATO Lab costs a fraction of this amount and can be easily installed in any office or laboratory.
ATO Lab utilizes an ultrasonic atomization technology that allows for spherical particles with a diameter of 20 to 100 μm. The process is carried out in a shielding gas atmosphere. ATO Lab is capable of atomizing several materials, including aluminum, titanium, stainless steel and precious metals. The machine is also easy to use, the company states, with a user-friendly software system and a touch screen. The user has control over several process parameters.
ATO Lab’s advantages include its ability to atomize a wide range of materials at a relatively low production cost, with no restrictions on the minimum amount of powder being prepared. It’s a scalable system that imparts flexibility to the manufacturing process and allows easy access to material processing for small and medium-sized enterprises.
3D Lab began researching atomization three years ago. The company wanted to rapidly produce small quantities of feedstock for metal additive manufacturing research and process parameters selection. The team found the range of commercially available powders very limited and limiting, and the long realization time of smaller orders and high raw material costs made it impossible to implement a cost-effective solution using currently available atomisation methods.
In addition to the finalization of the ATO Lab, 3D Lab also announced that the Polish venture capital company Altamira invested 6.6 million PLN ($1.8 million) to develop the atomizer manufacturing plant and to build a global distribution channel. 3D Lab also recently moved to a brand new facility in Warsaw. The first ATO Lab devices are expected to be shipped in the first quarter of 2019.
Formnext will be taking place in Frankfurt, Germany from November 13th to November 16th. 3D Lab will be demonstrating the ATO Lab live for the first time; if you will be attending the show you can visit the company and see the atomizer in action in Hall 3.0 at Booth G-20.
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