AMS Spring 2023

Desktop Metal Releases X-Series Binder Jet Metal 3D Printers

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Upon shipping its first P-50 Production System and rebranding its EnvisionTEC acquisition, Desktop Metal (NYSE:DM) continues to integrate its subsidiaries into its larger brand. The latest is the incorporation of ExOne, a key purchase to secure its binder jetting portfolio. This comes in the form of the X-Series, the Desktop Metal branded line of binder jet systems for sand and ceramic 3D printing based on the purchase of ExOne.

The X-Series is made up of three different models derived from ExOne’s pre-acquisition portfolio. The machines are described below:

  • InnoventX: less expensive system from research, academia, and low-volume production. Its build envelope is 160 x 65 x 65 mm (6.3 x 2.5 x 2.5 in).
  • X25Pro: mid-sized printer already used for volume production with a build volume of 400 x 250 x 250 mm (15.75 x 9.84 x 9.84 in)
  • X160Pro: “the world’s largest metal binder jet system” with a build envelope of 800 x 500 x 400 mm (31.5 x 19.7 x 15.8 in).

The printers will now be sold through Desktop Metal’s global support team and will include the company’s build preparation and sintering simulation software. It relies on ExOne’s patented Triple ACT method, in which an ultrasonic, vibrating hopper dispenses the proper amount of powder for the build layer, resulting in less clumping and greater accuracy. A knurled roller then spreads the powder evenly before a separate roller compacts the material. By separating these steps, the company is able to improve the quality of the part before sintering.

The InnoventX 3D printer. Image courtesy of Desktop Metal.

These machines are capable of processing a variety of materials with a diverse range of powder sizes, from three to 100 microns. Densities of 97 to 99 percent or greater can be achieved, rivaling or exceeding those of metal injection molding or gravity castings. Surface roughness as low as 4 µm (Ra) can be reached right out of the furnace, before any further post-processing.

The X250Pro 3D printer. Image courtesy of Desktop Metal.

“Desktop Metal’s X-Series printers give customers more choices than ever when it comes to binder jet additive manufacturing,” said Ric Fulop, Desktop Metal Co-founder and CEO. “Our team is moving aggressively to drive additive manufacturing into mass production through a focused strategy of production-capable printers, high-performance materials, and key applications. Binder jetting is the key technology that enables all the benefits additive manufacturing has to offer at scale, from reduced waste to more efficient, lower-risk supply chains.”

The X160Pro 3D Printer. Image courtesy of Desktop Metal.

The ExOne machines compare to Desktop Metal’s existing of metal 3D printers that include:

  • The Studio System, which does not rely on binder jetting, but a form of bound metal extrusion and has a build volume of 30 x 20 x 20 cm (12 x 8 x 8 in).
  • Shop Systems, which range in build size from 350 x 220 x 50 mm (13.8 x 8.7 x 2.0 in) to 350 x 220 x 200 mm (13.8 x 8.7 x 7.9 in)
  • Production Systems, made up of the P1, with a build volume of 200 x 100 x 40 mm (7.9 x 3.9 x 1.6 in), and the P-50, with a build volume of 490 x 380 x 260 mm (19.2 x 15 x 10.2 in).

Of course, there are details other than the build volume that are important to note. For instance, Desktop Metal’s original binder jetting machines are meant to use the company’s Single Pass Jetting method. This technique is described as offering unprecedented throughput, one of the original value propositions Desktop Metal presented when it came out of stealth.

Parts 3D printed using ExOne’s binder jetting technology. Image courtesy of ExOne.

However, the product was slow to roll out to market, with the much-anticipated P-50 Production System only seeing its first shipment in February of this year. As the company attempted to introduce technology to the public, the acquisition of EnvisionTEC could bring the firm much-needed revenue. The ExOne purchase was more recent and it’s difficult to determine exactly how the new machines fall into the broader catalog, as they don’t offer Single Pass Jetting.

So, just looking at the portfolio in terms of size, we see the machines lined up from smallest to largest as follows: InnoventX, the Studio System, the P-1 Production System, the Shop Systems, X25Pro, the P-50 Production System, and the X160Pro. Though the technologies vary here from bound metal deposition to Triple ACT to Single Pass Jetting, there’s certainly a lot of overlap in terms of mid-range build sizes, so it will be interesting to see how these machines are marketed and to what types of users. Perhaps we will see the P-1 or some Shop Systems phased out or we’ll see the X-Series upgraded to include Single Pass Jetting.

To learn more about the metal binder jetting market, the various players, and how they will take the mid-sized market, check out our latest PRO article.

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