When we typically talk about the various 3D printers on the market today, the machines which are capable of printing in metal materials are usually the ones which garner the most attention, the highest price tags, and ultimately exhibit the most potential in creating end-use products. There are several companies out there who have, over the years, released various 3D metal printers, most of which use selective laser sintering (SLS) / direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) or electron beam melting (EBM) in order to fabricate objects. However, for one company out of Japan, the idea of bringing to market a more affordable, yet highly reliable 3D metal printer was something they have been contemplating for some time now.
Mutoh Industries Ltd. has now officially unveiled their new Value Arc MA5000-S1 3D printer. Unlike most of the other 3D metal printers on the market today, this machine utilizes a different type of technology, a technology that in fact has been around in one form or another for several millennia. That technology is “welding”, and the Value Arc 3D printer uses a form of arc welding in order to print out metal objects.
Developed by Mutuoh Industries in cooperation with Professor Sasahara Hiroyuki, at the Institute of Advanced Mechanical Systems at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, the machine prints using general-purpose arc welding wire, and is priced lower than most high-end industrial level 3D metal printers on the market today, at around 30 million Japanese Yen (approximatley $243,000). Material costs can be reduced by a factor of 10, and material availability is never a problem for owners of the Value Arc, especially when compared to the other 3D metal printers available.
While the precision and detail of parts coming off of the new Value Arc 3D printer are not of the same quality as other more expensive SLS or EBM based printers, Mutoh Industries also specializes in creating other subtractive manufacturing methods, which when combined with the Value Arc can create fully finished, highly detailed ,end-use products.
Another advertised benefit of the Value Arc is the fact that it is much more easily handled than other 3D metal printers, which mostly work with very fine, and potentially dangerous metal powders. It also has the benefit of printing objects much faster than with these more conventional machines. Normal printing speeds are between 100-200 cubic centimeters per hour, while the machine can be tuned to print upwards of 500cc/h, depending on various conditions.
The Value Arc features a large build volume of 500 mm x 500 mm x 500 mm, and can print using many different metals, such as steel, stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, nickel alloy and more. The machines are expected to go on sale within the next few days.
It should be interesting to see how the market responds to this machine, as it is a more affordable option when compared to others currently out there. For jobs that don’t require very fine details, this appears to be the perfect 3D printer. What are your thoughts on this new 3D metal printer? Discuss in the Value Arc MA5000-S1 forum thread on 3DPB.com.