Metal 3D printing is slowly becoming less expensive and more accessible, but for the most part, it’s still expensive and tends to be populated with big, bulky printers. More companies are beginning to offer more compact metal 3D printers, but a true desktop metal 3D printer is quite rare. That’s why it’s notable that Additec, the company behind the Direct Deposition Device, is introducing the μPrinter, a small metal 3D printer that can fit on the desktop.
Like Additec’s other printers, the μPrinter is capable of printing with both metal powder and wire. Despite its small size, it can produce relatively large components, with a build area of 160 x 120 x 450 mm. Its pricing starts at $90,000, but its ability to process commercial welding wire means that the materials it can work with are widely available anywhere in the world, with pricing starting below $10 per kg. The 3D printer features integrated, automated process control which results in high process reliability, and the deposition process is independent, allowing for a great deal of design freedom.
The μPrinter’s process has already been proven through Additec’s patented deposition head which was originally launched at RAPID 2016. It’s an extremely high-precision process compared to typical LMD/DED processes. Additec designed the μPrinter as an entry level metal 3D printer for companies who want to get started with metal 3D printing and that will potentially upgrade to a larger 3D printer in the future. The μPrinter can also be used for cladding or repair of small components.
Thanks to its sealed, argon-filled atmosphere, the printed parts are free of oxidation. An integrated camera allows for a live feed to be provided through the web interface for remote monitoring, and it can also be configured to take time lapse videos. One especially convenient feature is the automatic wire cutter; if a print failure occurs, the controller can automatically return to the point of failure, trim the wire feedstock and restart the process.
According to Additec, the μPrinter is well-suited to research and development applications. Its ability to process both wire and powder makes it capable of a wide range of applications.
“Further, all integrated sensor data (feed pressure, chamber temperature, oxygen level, particle level etc.) is available through a secondary USB output and can be used to more closely monitor the process,” the company states. “Also, every parameter is available to be altered in G-Code, can be updated in process and we provide a very capable macro utility that let the user easily bundle up commands and poll data for testing and automation via the Web interface. Lastly the stationary deposition head and optional side viewport allow for easy integration of third party monitoring equipment.”
You can learn more about the μPrinter here.
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