AMS Spring 2023

Multi-Metal 3D Printing Made Possible with Grid Logic’s Powder Deposition Tech

6K SmarTech

Share this Article

One of the most interesting companies tucked away at RAPID + TCT 2022 was a small Michigan startup called Grid Logic. Though the name derives from its prior activity in improving the country’s electrical grid, the concept of grid logic could be easily applied to X-Y-Z axes of 3D printing. It’s this grid that the startup is disrupting in a deceptively simple and ingenious way. To tackle the issue of multi-metal 3D printing (or multi-material when ceramics are added to the mix), the company has come up with a method for depositing metal powders. 

Printing a colorful U.S. flag at RAPID, the system feeds three or more powders onto a substrate layer by layer. While the sand being deposited at the event was just for show, the machine is capable of combining dissimilar metals and ceramics that would be difficult to blend with other techniques, including additive manufacturing (AM). Once complete, the print is simply sintered in a furnace to create a final part. 

Grid Logic demonstrating its capabilities with colored sand at RAPID + TCT 2022.

In this way, the technology is most like metal binder jetting: 3D printed metal powder that is sintered. Unlike binder jet, there is no binder. The metal particles just rest atop one another, with zircon as a support material, and are sintered together. There are no complex inkjet heads, no rollers or recoaters. And there are certainly no lasers. The metallurgy is the work of CEO Matthew Holcomb, a chemical engineer, whose brother, Jim Holcomb, a former engineer with General Motors, designed the robust gantry system. 

On display at the booth were a variety of application demonstrators, including an axial flux permanent magnet rotor, made up of a neodymium magnet and copper conductor, to power electric vehicles.  There was also a three-phase stator coil that could be used as an induction motor for a variety of industrial applications. Other parts showcased the ability to combine a copper coil within a ceramic insulator. 

A demo electric motor with 3D printed multi material components.

While it is possible to blend dissimilar metals with directed energy deposition (DED), that technology is unable to produce the same complexity as possible with powder bed fusion (PBF). 3D printing with multiple materials is more than a little difficult to achieve with PBF, however. And, with traditional metal binder jet, there’s the need for a binder and combining different metals is also complicated. 

The company seems to have previously worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Department of Defense (DoD), to create beryllium-replacement components for Raytheon missile systems. Now, the company is looking for next steps, including partners and customers. Grid Logic offers 3D printing services, materials development, R&D, and the development of custom systems. 

Demo parts on display at the Grid Logic booth at RAPID + TCT 2022.

With that in mind, there are plenty of opportunities for the firm. For instance, the recently announced AM Forward program could see Grid Logic mentor with GE, who is near full commercialization of its metal binder jet technology. The same program would give the startup access to ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. There are also a number of grants that the company could apply for. And because it is based in Michigan, it may be able to take advantage of Project DIAMonD

I can’t imagine this business staying independent for too long. Bound metal printing is projected to produce $54 billion in parts by 2030 according to the recent “Market for Bound Metal Additive Manufacturing 2022” report from SmarTech Analysis. Given the excitement around this segment, it wouldn’t be surprising if Grid Logic got scooped up by GE, Desktop Metal, or HP. 

Share this Article


Recent News

3D Printing News Unpeeled: VulcanForms, HoPro3D and Fortius

NextFlex Announces $8.45M in Funding for Semiconductors and Electronics 3D Printing



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

Featured

Nano Dimension Leadership Struggles for Control over Electronics 3D Printing Company

According to a report from Israeli site CTech, leadership at Nano Dimension (Nasdaq: NNDM) may be fighting for control over the electronics 3D printing company. CEO Yoav Stern has requested...

Featured

BMW Begins Production of Hydrogen-Powered iX5 Vehicle with 3D Printed Parts

BMW Group announced that the auto giant has begun small-scale production of the iX5, touted by the company as the world’s first “sports activity vehicle” powered by hydrogen fuel cells....

Featured

Ursa Major and EOS to Disrupt Space Production with 3D Printed Copper

“Let’s build some engines!” That’s essentially what Ursa Major is doing. Based in Colorado, this space technology business is racing to improve humanity’s quest to explore the universe – several...

Art Basel Visitors Can Purchase Zero-Waste 3D Printed Furnishings

Art fairs are getting creative and launching new experiences for visitors. For example, during the 20th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach – the centerpiece of the city’s widely acclaimed...