Vienna, Austria-based metal 3D printer producer Incus GmbH, which evolved from ceramics AM company Lithoz GmbH, first introduced its Lithography-based Metal Manufacturing (LMM) technology at formnext 2019. The company’s Hammer Series machine uses photopolymerization to economically print complex metal components, like heatsinks and drill heads, with fine structures and good surface aesthetics. Now, Incus has announced that its novel Hammer Lab35 3D printer is in series production, in spite of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Incus website, its LMM process was invented in 2006 at the Vienna University of Technology, and is based on stereolithography for ceramic materials; however, this specific technology uses liquid metal feedstock, which means there’s no need for protective gas atmosphere solutions. Incus itself was only founded in 2019 by experienced mechanical engineering and additive manufacturing professional Dr. Gerald Mitteramskogler, the company’s CEO.
3D printing methods that can achieve complex, intricate geometries for pre-series manufacturing and functional prototypes are in high demand these days, and Incus says that its LMM technology is an economic way to achieve both, in addition to small-scale production of components that match metal injection molding, or MIM, in terms of quality. The company’s flagship Hammer Lab35 3D printer is said to offer excellent mechanical properties for part sizes that are lower than 200 grams, along with a lateral resolution of 35 µm, print speeds up to 100 cm3/h, and an industrial light engine. Additionally, the feedstock it uses has a self-supporting function, which, as Incus explains, “allows for the volume-optimized placement of different geometries on a single building platform,” without needing any support structures.
Incus also said that its LMM process is easy to integrate into R&D departments, and even MIM production lines, for the purposes of prototyping and small-scale production. In March of 2020, the company shipped out its first series Hammer Lab35 3D printer, and has also been working this year to grow its partner and customer network as well.
“Despite this challenging year, we had great collaborations with customers and have proven that LMM has the potential to increase performance and to reduce costs for small and mid-scale production, as well as for manufacturing parts featuring complex geometries,” stated Incus CEO Dr. Gerald Mitteramskogler in a press release. “Our team is extremely proud to have added 3D printing of metals with lithography to the manufacturing landscape. We highly appreciate the trust and patience of our first customers that have been helping to develop our product and our company. We still have a journey ahead to scale up to mass-production, but we are eager to continue this path in 2021.”
Two Hammer Lab35 systems are already being used at Pforzheim University’s Institute for Precious and Technology Metals, and at the university’s spin-off company Metshape, so the process and the printer itself are both being reviewed and tested. This is helpful for Incus, as it can use any feedback it receives to make the system even better, as well as develop new feedstocks and applications.
(Sources/Images: Incus Gmbh)
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