Stratasys Reveals Plan to Develop Metal 3D Printing Platform

Stratasys has announced the development of a new metal additive manufacturing platform that will aim to displace conventional methods for short-run manufacturing. 

Over the past couple of years, 3D printing companies like Desktop Metal and Markforged have transformed the metal additive manufacturing market. Once confined to industrial-sized and exorbitantly priced machines, metal 3D printing is now more accessible and affordable than ever before.

Most of the companies that are currently pioneering this metal metamorphosis are relatively fresh faces. However, one additive manufacturing stalwart is now looking to throw its hat into the metal 3D printing ring. This week, Stratasys announced that it would start developing a new metal additive manufacturing platform. The company is aiming to use this system to displace conventional methods for short-run production.

“We are extremely excited to announce our development of this new additive manufacturing platform, targeting short-run production applications for a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, defense, machining, and metal foundries. We believe that this platform will meaningfully expand our addressable markets for the long term and provide our customers with an effective means to realize the values of additive manufacturing for powder metallurgy applications,” said Ilan Levin, CEO of Stratasys.

At the moment, details are sparse about Stratasys’ forthcoming metal 3D printing system. However, they have dropped a few bread crumbs for us to follow. Here’s what we know so far.

Stratasys HQ in Israel.

Stratasys Announces Development of Metal 3D Printing Platform

According to Stratasys, the metal 3D printing platform has been under development for the past several years. Although the exact process has not been revealed, the company states that it will incorporate its proprietary jetting technology.

The metal 3D printing system will take the advantages of additive manufacturing and applies them to short-run production. To accomplish this, Stratasys is attempting to overcome the existing material limitations that plague other metal 3D printer platforms.

With this new technology, Stratasys is planning to offer customers metal 3D printed parts made from commonly used powder metallurgy. The 3D printing company will start by offering aluminum at a low cost-per-part and throughput. Stratasys is also working to integrate easy post-processing and high part quality into the platform.

What we do know, at the moment, is that the newly announced 3D printing platform will incorporate Stratasys’ PolyJet process. To understand how this would work with metal additive manufacturing, we imagine it will be similar to Desktop Metal’s recently released Production System.

This industrial 3D printer from Desktop Metal uses a binder jetting technique, depositing metal powder with a binding material. Once the part is finished, it’s placed into a furnace that eliminates the binder, solidifying the metal particles together.

Strangely enough, last year, the two companies struck up a partnership that would allow Stratasys’ extensive network of resellers to sell Desktop Metal’s metal 3D printing technology. Now, the 3D printing titan os poised to unleash its own metal additive manufacturing hardware onto the growing market.

With over 30 years in the industry and a well-established binder jetting technology, Stratasys seems to be banking on the idea that they can transfer its expertise and technology towards new metallic horizons. Stratasys will reveal more information about the metal 3D printing platform at the upcoming RAPID + TCT 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Conference, which is taking place from April 23-26 in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Object Connex 500 is a Stratasys 3D printer that uses PolyJet technology.

Source: Stratasys 

License: The text of “Stratasys Reveals Plan to Develop Metal 3D Printing Platform” by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Sandvik plan to acquire software firms

Metal cutting experts Sandvik are looking to continue their 3D printing journey among uncertainty regarding the future of the tooling market. A growing market for electric cars is changing one of the largest revenues for Sandvik as traditional engines are considerably more demanding in terms of resources, with many more smaller parts that need to be tooled. This shift towards electric vehicles means the manufacturing process for future cars will not be as intensive or reliant on metal cutting tools. Sandvik are preparing themselves for such change.

The Swedish company, which prides themselves on their tooling expertise, are delving more and more into 3D printing to stay ahead of the game, and according to reports the company plan to purchase industrial software firms. This comes after last years announcement about the opening of a 3D printing R&D centre in Sandviken, Sweden.

Sandvik Machining Solutions (SMS) president Jonas Gustavsson said recently:

We are quite convinced that we should and need to start looking at a larger part of the production chain. So that is an evolution of our positioning.

sandvik opens 3D printing r and d center

Sandvik logo. Image via Sandvik.

Currently, Sandvik offer a number of metal powders for 3D printing, for a range of additive manufacturing processes. Such powders include the Osprey metal powder. More centrally to the business, they have 20% of the $17 billion metal cutting tools market. However, demand is dropping and to combat this:

We are going to want to take a position within additive [manufacturing] in one way or another. I also believe we will have found one or two areas that are strongly linked to what we do today. We are talking about additive as an interesting area that we are looking at, but there are other areas as well.

Sandvik operate heavily in the engineering sector as well as the automotive. Half of Sandvik’s sales are from engineering with a quarter coming from automotive. The exponential growth of battery driven cars, opposed to traditional fuel, means the manufacture process will be changing. However, Gustavsson explained a silver lining in the increasing demand for SMS’s more specialized tooling services:

This segment is not going to collapse and disappear. But we have to develop our offering so we are not as dependent on the standard inserts volume as we have been,

Nevertheless, the Swedish company are confident that whatever way the industry goes they will be prepared for it. Increasingly we are seeing additive as a complementary technology to traditional subtraction processes. If this becomes the case for Sandvik, the aim will be to utilize 3D printing in order to remain dynamic in their field and adapt to the ever-changing market. 

Featured image shows Sandvik’s metal cutting process. Image via Sandvik Coromant.