MetalFab 300 Flex 3D Printer Unveiled by Additive Industries

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Additive Industries has introduced the MetalFab 300 Flex. The “Flex” feature allows this 3D printer to change its build platform size, making diverse builds economical and feasible within the same machine. The entry-level model is dual-laser and offers either a 300 x 300 x 400 mm or a 420 x 420 x 400 mm build envelope. Running costs may be lower than other printers capable of large builds when needed. The goal is to create a cost-effective printer that caters to the needs of companies new to 3D printing.

“At Additive Industries, we are proud to lead the way in making metal additive manufacturing more accessible and affordable. The MetalFab 300 Flex which is based on our proven metal PBF technology is designed to help our customers manage their technical and financial risk as they grow their AM business. It is specifically aimed at customers who need to be able to build both small and large parts but without incurring the upfront expense of a large printer,” said Additive Industries CEO Mark Massey.

The printer is priced at $730,000. To increase the build area, it comes with either a monthly or lifetime license. Dual 500W lasers are included, but the system can also be upgraded to four lasers total, or another print core can be added. Additionally, other post-processing and production units can be integrated.

I like what they’re doing here. Instead of purchasing an expensive system and using it for coupons for a year and a half, they offer a cheaper option. Moreover, rather than buying a small system initially to keep costs low for qualifying and then switching to a larger system later for extra money, you can use the same system throughout. This is a smart approach and should allow some people to opt for a printer they can use from the start through to production. As a business innovation, this is quite interesting.

However, Additive Industries already offers a relatively inexpensive MetalFabG2 Core, an upgraded automation unit, and the full continuous production machine. Ideally, the upgrade path would follow this sequence, allowing you to take the parts qualified on the Core and upgrade the unit as needed. So, this would either be a new printer family or a new separate upgrade path.

Rather than making a flexible printer, wouldn’t it be easier to lease a system to people for less and then increase the price as they use more lasers or after a certain time? Surely that would be better than developing a whole new system. Instead of tying up resources for months in developing a new system, we could lease the existing system at a reduced price and then increase it after eight months.

I like that companies are working on meeting the market and being more market-oriented. Additive Industries’ vision has always been compelling. Their continuous production methodology is a compelling way to make parts with reduced costs and increased repeatability. However, this approach seems to address a business model issue through engineering and product mix.

If you make a highly automated large machine, it will be expensive, limiting initial adoption. Trust, service, incentives, and finding the right relationships could solve those issues. While this could be a valuable path into the market for some, there might have been other ways to achieve the same goal.

Having said that, the system seems comparatively affordable when compared to other similarly sized units. The operational flexibility to “design your own Capex” is also very interesting. Reportedly, you can turn on and off the subscription to the large build volume. This means the initial Capex is limited; we can go bigger for a while and then return to a smaller size for the next few months. It’s nice to see such experimentation.

Rather than just throwing lasers at the problem, it is good to see people trying to identify client concerns and bottlenecks and address them. I’m not sure to what extent this will work, but I think we’re better off thinking flexibly than making something with 30 lasers.

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