ColdMetalFusion 3D Printing to Get End-to-End Automation, Thanks to New Partnership

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Headmade Materials, in collaboration with post-processing firm AM Solutions and process development partner Neue Materialien Bayreuth, aims to streamline its unique ColdMetalFusion technology into a continuous process. ColdMetalFusion employs existing polymer powder bed fusion (PBF) machines, along with innovative solvent debinding and sintering techniques, to produce metal components. While the process involves multiple steps, it remains cost-efficient and offers better shrinkage control compared to some alternative methods. Though not ideal for every type of component, ColdMetalFusion proves to be an attractive technology for producing large batches of parts, particularly those measuring a few centimeters, in materials like 316 stainless steel.

The partners aim to further enhance the technology’s appeal by focusing on reducing part costs and improving yields. Specifically, their goal is to automate the depowdering and surface treatment processes.

¨From our perspective, the key to industrial production with low scrap rates for the entire industry lies in component handling. Through the cooperation in the AutoSmooth project, we will reach a new level here. In order to exploit the full potential of additive series manufacturing, it requires the automation of unpacking and surface processing. CMF technology has already laid the foundation for this, and now we will take the next step toward a fully automated solution with our partners,” Christian Staudigel, Co-CEO of Headmade Materials, said.

¨Our many years of experience in surface processing combined with the high scalability of ColdMetalFusion and the research know-how of Neue Materialien Bayreuth will revolutionize additive metal series production,” Dr. Till Merkel, Division Manager Technology at Rösler Oberflächentechnik, the parent company of AM Solutions, stated.

I’m particularly fond of ColdMetalFusion for its ability to repurpose existing polymer PBF equipment for metal component production. This feature makes the technology especially appealing to polymer service bureaus looking to venture into metal 3D printing. In many respects, the process is simpler than traditional metal PBF. Moreover, it opens the door for new polymer equipment to be utilized in large-scale metal component manufacturing. Affordable 3D printers from brands like Sintratec, Nexa3D, or Farsoon could be employed for this purpose. What excites me the most is the potential for significant cost savings—hundreds of thousands of dollars—when transitioning to series metal production.

Headmade offers a range of materials that are considered exotic within the realm of 3D printing, such as tungsten and commercially pure Titanium CP T1. Tungsten, which is difficult to machine, forge, or print, has various applications including CT scanner screens, electronics, nuclear energy, and balancing Formula 1 cars. M2 tool steel is also versatile, finding use in tooling, knives, cutting blades, and dies. Alongside more conventional materials like Ti64, 316L, and 17-4 PH steel, ColdMetalFusion technology enables the production of a wide array of parts.

Headmade prominently features items like bike pedals and gear hubs on its website—components that are commonly produced in large quantities. These aren’t specialized items like turbomachinery parts or rocket components; they are everyday items that could benefit from Cold Metal Fusion’s capabilities.

The core promise of Cold Metal Fusion is the ability to produce more commonplace metal components cost-effectively. Should Headmade and its partners succeed in streamlining the process from the initial “green” state to the final product, the technology could become a highly compelling addition to our toolkit.

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