In 2019, Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM) introduced its turnkey metal binder jetting Shop System for the first time at Formnext. Developed to bring metal AM to machine and job shops, the Shop System has been the best-selling metal binder jet printer in the world for two years, with global users logging more than 20,000 print hours total. Now, the 3D printing unicorn, which went public in 2020, has responded to customer demand by expanding the Shop System platform with two upgrade packages—Shop System+ and Shop System Pro—that will offer users more functionality, flexibility, and control over machine parameters and operating costs.
“Customers love the affordability, quality, and reliability of the Shop System, and the Desktop Metal team is excited to expand on this successful platform. The Shop System has become a global success, and we’ve really taken a sinter-based production process that used to require specialized knowledge and made it accessible on many levels. In addition to being affordable, our software and controlled powder and binder supply chain have made 3D printing metal parts easy and reliable,” said Desktop Metal’s Founder and CEO Ric Fulop.
The Shop System is an end-to-end, closed material solution for complex, end-use metal 3D printed parts, featuring what Desktop Metal says is the binder jet market’s “highest resolution and most advanced single pass print engine.” It’s qualified to print cobalt chrome and 7-4PH and 316L stainless steels, with 304L stainless steel and nickel alloys IN615 and IN718 on the way, and offers great surface finish and detail, optimized powders, Live Sinter simulation and scanning software, and print speeds that are said to be up to ten times faster than those of legacy PBF systems.
In addition to the Shop System metal binder jetting printer, with its over 70,000 nozzles jetting 1.2pL droplets at almost 10 kHZ, the platform also includes a powder station with built-in powder recycling, easy access portholes, and a vacuum port; integrated powder handling accessories and workflow; a shop-safe, high-temperature furnace for accessible yet industrial-strength sintering; Desktop Metal’s powders and binders; and build preparation and sintering simulation software. The Shop System was built specifically to integrate with existing machine shops, so that businesses can get binder jet operations set up more quickly and easily.
In terms of the new additions to the platform, the Shop System+ package gives high-throughput users discounted access to Desktop Metal’s own powders and binders, which helps decrease the running costs of AM operations, as well as improving part costs for a faster ROI.
As for the Shop System Pro, it’s an open powder system that includes all the benefits of the Shop System+ in addition to more process flexibility. This flexibility comes from new features, like custom 3D printing and spreading parameters, process controls, custom sintering profiles for the Desktop Metal Furnace, and bi-directional printing for the Shop System printer. This package would be good for high-production users who have powder metallurgy expertise and are looking to optimize running costs, in addition to enabling specific cost structures or applications through the use of third-party or proprietary powders.
This news comes just a couple of months after Desktop Metal announced that it would be laying off 12% of its employees and consolidating operations in what Fulop called a “strategic integration and cost optimization initiative,” even though the Massachusetts startup acquired a string of companies in 2021. In its most recent metals market data report, SmarTech Analysis EVP Research Scott Dunham said Q1 2022 was “historic” for the AM industry, “with sequential growth continuing in earnest even beyond the rebound of 2021.”
“However, we should not be quick to dismiss the additive world as being insulated from the macroeconomic challenges of inflation and recession. If costs continue to creep up and are passed on to users, a lot of the work the AM community has done to make these processes more cost effective (and therefore more attractive to manufacturing) may be derailed, slowing growth,” Dunham continued.
The market research firm also reported that the normal cycle of “new developmental AM platform growth,” with hardware revenue boosted by new technologies or new series of products, wasn’t happening, but that “hardware sales and utilization of AM hardware to build value” had increased. By narrowing its focus and investing in an already successful platform like the Shop System, Desktop Metal could be working to insulate itself against possible slowing growth.
At IMTS 2022 in Chicago next month, which is the largest and longest-running industry trade show in the Western Hemisphere, Desktop Metal will have models of its Shop System at its booth 433103 on level 3 of the West Building, as well as at the SolidCAM booth 134502 on level 3 of the East Building. The company will also feature polymer, metal, and sand 3D printing technologies in booth 432212. IMTS will take place at McCormick Place from September 12-17.
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