An interesting collaboration could result in one of the world’s largest 3D metal printers.
We recently met with two companies that have partnered together to create a unique capability: very large-scale 3D metal printing.
One of the companies is Multiax, a Michigan-based company that specializes in industrial CNC equipment. They have historically produced several lines of powerful, but traditional, CNC milling machines. They offer a variety of models using several different mechanical configurations.
The other company is 3D-Hybrid solutions, a firm dedicated to adding 3D metal printing capabilities to “any” CNC machine. Their work involves fitting technology to the business end of a CNC machine that can rapidly deposit metal.
They explain they are able to use their proprietary technology to form 3D objects using either powder or wire deposition techniques, and can handle a wide variety of metals, including: Inconel 718, 625, Stellite #6, SS 316, 304, Copper, GRCop-84, C18150, SS17-4, SS 15-5, and many more.
What happens when you put these two companies together? They’re now offering an extremely large 3D metal printer with these characteristics:
- Cylindrical build volume of up to 12 meters (!) in diameter (that’s 40 ft in imperial measurement)
- Build volume 3 meters tall
- 5-axis robotic deposition mechanism
- Ability to CNC mill the surface of the 3D print during operation
- Ability to plate objects
- Two nozzles, suggesting the possibility of powder alloys created on the fly
If this sounds attractive, there is also the price: they explain the starting price for systems is around USD$600K, which is quite a bit less than you’d expect from other 3D metal printer vendors, who can print only much smaller objects.
They say they can configure systems of various sizes to match clients’ needs.
A system of this type may not be for everyone, but it seems quite feasible: robotic technology of this scale has been around for years, while metal deposition technology is also not particularly new. Putting the two together seems like a natural way to very quickly establish practical means of 3D printing very large metal objects, just the thing many other companies strive to achieve.
But maybe this partnership has found a way to get there first.