Both ProMetal and Sintef have been working on metal printing processes, quite different from traditional plastics and powders of other 3D print processses. One of the barriers to more common use of 3D printing (aside from cost and print time) is the robustness of the printed objects. If only they could be printed in something stronger, like, say, metal?
We’ll add another metal service to the list today: Arcam AB, whose tagline is “CAD TO METAL”. They’re not kidding:
During the CAD to Metal process, an electron beam melts metal powder in a layer-by-layer process to build the physical part. The Arcam EBM machines use a powder bed configuration and are capable of producing multiple parts in the same build
This process appears similar to that used by ProMetal, and may have been where Shapeways printed the winning design in Titanium. But there’s more to the story.
Arcam has teamed up with surgeons in New Zealand to produce custom-made metal implants to replace missing or crumbling bones. 3D scanning and modeling produces a design that is then printed in titanium. The implants are then placed within the patient’s body and take over the role of inadequate natural bones and bone segments.