ExOne Announces New Entry-Level Metal 3D Printer with Concept Sketch, Launches New Capability to Print Particulate Binders
The ExOne Company today announced an all-new InnoventPro, which it says will be the world’s most advanced entry-level binder jetting system, capable of 3D printing a variety of powders – metal, ceramic and composite – along with the company’s patented NanoFuse™ particulate binders.
Binder jetting is a groundbreaking 3D printing process that uses a digital file to quickly inkjet a binder into a bed of powder particles — metal, sand or ceramic — creating a solid part one layer at a time. When printing metals, the final part must be sintered in order to fuse the particles together into a solid object.
ExOne’s Innovent printer line has been the world’s best-selling metal binder jetting system since it launched in 2016, but customers had been looking for an expanded build area and faster speeds. So, the new InnoventPro will offer two new build sizes, a 3-liter and a 5-liter, with print speeds topping 700 cc/hour.
“Customers around the world already love the Innovent+, and based on their feedback, we’re going to give them an updated entry-level system that’s bigger, faster and smarter than ever,” said John Hartner, ExOne CEO.
The updated system is aimed at academics, researchers, and a full spectrum of manufacturers, from machine and MIM shops to high-volume producers, who want to produce metal parts quickly, affordably and sustainably.
The announcement was made with the release of a concept rendering, and the actual production version of the system is slated to be shown in the second half of 2021, with commercial availability to follow.
Raising the bar in binder jetting
The ability to 3D print particulate binders in a powder bed, which ExOne patented in 2018, combines two methods of additive manufacturing that have been completely separate until now: binder jetting and material jetting.
ExOne says the innovation is a breakthrough that improves the resolution and sinterability of bound metal parts, especially materials such as copper and aluminum.
Because nanoparticles fill in the interstices between powder bed particles and can bond at lower temperatures, they enable stronger green parts. In turn, this enables 3D printing of larger parts and finer features, delivering sharper corners and edges. These new binders can also improve the resolution and sinterability of high-demand metals, such as copper and aluminum.
Rick Lucas, ExOne CTO and VP, New Markets, said the InnoventPro and new NanoFuse binders show how ExOne continues to lead the way in commercial development of binder jetting.
“Just as the current Innovent+ served as the proving ground for our patented Triple ACT system, which now delivers industry-leading quality in metal binder jetting, the InnoventPro will offer groundbreaking new features in a commercial system,” Lucas said. “Our patented approach to 3D printing particulate inks in a print bed is opening new doors in binder jetting.”
ExOne’s patented Triple ACT is a critical advanced compaction technology that, depending on material, delivers industry-leading final part density of 97+%, dimensional tolerances in the range of <1%-2.5%, and high consistency, with part variation of just 0.3% across the print bed.
Triple ACT has been so effective that it has also sped up ExOne’s qualification of new materials. ExOne binder jet systems now process more than 20 metal, ceramic and composite materials, with single-alloy metals making up more than half of those offerings. NanoFuse binders are expected to expand that material range and improve sintering dynamics.
ExOne is hosting a webinar about the innovation on Nov. 4.
A Tool for Scaling to Production
Another key feature of the InnoventPro will be a shift in the type of printhead modules used. While ExOne will continue to use a piezoelectric printhead, the InnoventPro will now use the exact same type of module used in the on the X1 25Pro® and X1 160Pro™ metal 3D printers, allowing users to easily scale up from R&D to high-volume production.
This important change means a manufacturer can develop a product on the InnoventPro and use the same parameters to print that product in high volumes on the larger systems.
At the same time, ExOne laid out more of its vision for production binder jetting with a new X1D1 automated guided vehicle that will take print beds from the X1 160Pro through the entire binder jetting process. With a build volume of 160 liters, a full build box of metal powder will often weigh more than 700 kilograms, or more than 1,500 pounds.
So the new X1D1 AGV will lock into place at the front of the 160Pro, and will be able to roll a build box into and out of the machine. After printing, the X1D1 will transport the build box to a curing oven, where the parts are dried, before moving to an automated depowdering and cleaning station, enabled by robot arms and other yet-to-be-announced innovations, before final sintering.
“As part of our discussion with manufacturers, we’ve updated our vision for the production binder jetting work cell, developing an option that provides high-volume manufacturers with more intelligent flexibility and better use of factory space,” Hartner said.
The X1 160Pro will also be offered with ExOne Scout, a previously-announced Industry 4.0 app that provides real-time machine monitoring and analysis of production 3D printers on a wide range of digital devices, including smart phones and watches. Scout is enabled by Siemens MindSphere, an Internet-of-Things operating system with multilayered security.
“While ExOne’s production metal 3D printers will remain the centerpiece of our digital manufacturing vision, we’re looking to streamline the entire sequence of processes around our systems with automation, software and remote monitoring and controls,” Hartner said. “ExOne Scout and the X1D1 are moving us toward a complete digital manufacturing package that is smart and efficient.”
Learn more about the InnoventPro with NanoFuse at www.exone.com/InnoventPro.
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