Nexa3D Teams with Headmade Materials to Enable Metal 3D Printing on QLS Systems

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Nexa3D has teamed up with Headmade Materials to add metal 3D printing to its fast QLS series of 3D printers. The partnership introduces ColdMetalFusion, an innovative metal 3D printing process, to Nexa3D’s QLS 230, QLS 236, and QLS 820 models. ColdMetalFusion delivers metal components with exceptional performance, repeatability, and precision by combining high-throughput laser sintering with established powder metallurgy techniques. This strategic collaboration enhances the performance of Nexa3D’s fast-cycle QLS series and allows customers to make metal components more quickly and precisely.

Going beyond the initial announcement, this partnership will unleash a host of benefits across diverse sectors. Industries like aerospace, automotive, and healthcare stand to gain the most from the technological fusion of Nexa3D’s rapid-cycle selective laser sintering (SLS) printers and Headmade Materials’ unique feedstock. This game-changing alliance aims to replace traditional manufacturing bottlenecks with seamless, automated solutions. Whether it’s lightweight aerospace components or intricate medical devices, Nexa3D’s customers can now leverage ColdMetalFusion’s diverse material offerings. These offerings feature titanium, stainless steel 316L for corrosion-resistant applications in marine and chemical processing, stainless steel 17-4PH for aerospace and heat-intensive components, and tool steel M2, popular for its durability in metalworking and woodworking industries.

Game changer

As a key member of the ColdMetalFusion alliance, Headmade Materials collaborates with leaders in sintering, 3D printing, and industrial manufacturing to redefine large-scale AM. This coalition offers a comprehensive suite of services, equipment, materials, and software supported by a robust, six-step process that integrates SLS with traditional powder metallurgy techniques. The alliance wants to revolutionize industrial 3D printing by creating an end-to-end solution. Other alliance members include industry experts like LÖMI, MIMplus, element22, PresX, Farsoon, Rösler’s AM Solutions, and Sintratec.

Capitalizing on this collaborative expertise, ColdMetalFusion emerges as an innovative 3D printing technology. It synergistically combines the design flexibility and speed of polymer laser sintering with the robustness and cost-efficiency of traditional powder metallurgy. By combining these two processes, ColdMetalFusion makes it possible to produce metal parts that are both high-quality and cost-effective. The technology promises other advantages, such as high performance, precise repeatability, and scalability. Overall, the technology fits both small-batch and large-scale products perfectly.

“We are impressed by the speed and throughput capabilities of Nexa3D technology and couldn’t be more excited to partner with them to expand access and adoption of ColdMetal Fusion technology,” said Christian Fischer, Co-CEO of Headmade Materials.

Breaking barriers

Together with Headmade Materials, Nexa3D will offer an all-in-one solution that includes services, equipment, materials, software, and industry know-how for metal manufacturing. To achieve this, its QLS series of 3D printers have been designed to offer flexibility and speed for both polymer and metal parts production. The system utilizes a special, patented metal powder from Headmade Materials, coated with a thin polymer layer to facilitate bonding during the low-temperature sintering process on Nexa3D’s fast-cycle QLS platforms. Once parts are formed, they undergo Nexa3D’s validated processes for debinding and sintering, removing the polymer to yield fully metallic components. Notably, the QLS 230 and QLS 236 models are zero-waste printers, enabling manufacturers to recycle and reuse powder from other SLS equipment, which can result in significant cost savings.

Building on these capabilities, the QLS 230 model can produce metal parts with properties similar to those created through traditional metal injection molding but at a much faster pace and potentially at a fraction of the cost, states the company. MIMplus Technologies has been using the QLS 230 combined with ColdMetalFusion technology to successfully print industrial cutting tools, achieving exponential production savings compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

Nexa3D’s QLS 3D printers now produce both polymer and metal components using the ColdMetalFusion process. Image courtesy of Nexa3D.

Expanding the scope of this innovation, the partnership also extends into material versatility. The ColdMetalFusion process supports a variety of high-quality feedstock materials, catering to a range of industrial applications from aerospace to mechanical components.

When paired with QLS technology, ColdMetalFusion offers a streamlined and cost-effective pathway for the serial production of up to 100,000 parts annually. This process eliminates common restrictions in traditional and laser-based metal manufacturing, offering consistent secondary binding without the need for speculation. It also significantly minimizes post-processing steps such as support removal, heat treatment, and stress relief while reducing waste and material costs through reusable feedstock and eliminating redundant support structures.

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