Belgian metal 3D printing startup ValCUN has for a few years now been working on a completely new metal 3D printing technology. At first, the company developed the technology itself. Later on, it sought out pilot customers and acted as a service to manufacture aluminum parts with its technology. After a $1.5 million raise, and further development, the company is now ready to commercialize the machine further (3DPrint.com´s owner 3DRHoldings has invested in ValCUN as well). To that end, the startup will release their first machine, the Minerva, at RAPID + TCT. Prospective customers can now preorder the machine.
ValCUN´s central promise is that it wishes to revolutionize metal 3D printing with its Molten Metal Deposition (MMD) technology. With a wire feedstock it can be safely used in more environments than powder based systems. Feedstock costs are also significantly lower helping to lower part costs. MMD is different from other near net shape technologies such as WAAM and LMD technologies. A feeder feeds a wire into a crucible where it is melted and then deposited. The technology promises to have low energy costs and low part costs. ValCUN is aiming to disrupt metal additive and traditional industries with its technology. For aluminum specifically the company could have a cost advantage over powder bed fusion based system. Of course it remains to be seen if the company can successfully productize its offering, find customers and keep them happy.
As with all the near net shape technologies the right part, the right geometries and the right post-processing chain are important. If the company does not successfully find the right type of customers and identify the right applications they will have a tough time of it. A desktop Material Extrusion system is often an impulse buy for many companies and can be used for many unforeseen things. It is kind of Duck Tape for your company. Powder bed fusion systems are often very good at many different parts in polymer or have been developed well for specific applications. Meanwhile near net shape companies often have trouble selling their solutions because they require more tweaking and process steps to be thought out and dialed in before the application makes sense.
Jonas Galle, ValCUN CEO said, “We are excited to announce the start of pre-orders for our disruptive, deployable metal 3D printer.Customers are stressing the need for an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy solution that reduces post-processing and time-to-part, while remaining cost effective. We are glad to announce that the MMD technology delivers just that and are looking forward to supporting our customers in their metal AM utilization.”
Piet D’Haeyer, CEO of Pedeo, a die casting service, contributed, “I have been following aluminum 3D printing technology for over 20 years, and with ValCUN technology, I believe for the first time that this 3D print technology can disrupt the industrial aluminum market.“
Initially the company is targeting research institutions and industrial firms with the Minerva. The available materials will be aluminum and its alloys. The Minerva printer measures 75cm x 150cm and has a height of 2.3 meters. The print volume is 125 x 200mm3 and the printer’s rated energy consumption is said to be 2.5kW with nozzle temperatures being in between 700 and 900C. Bed temperature is between 400 to 600C. Materials are open but the company will sell you qualified rolls of 4008, 4043, 6061, 6082 aluminum. In addition to the full printer the company will also sell you a print head. This can be added to other industrial equipment such as a mill. ValCUN is showing a lot of promise in making available its novel metal 3D printing technology in machine form. Will the company disrupt the Additive space? What do you think?
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