Additec’s new μPrinter allows parts to be 3D printed in both powder and wire in the same system.
The Las Vegas-based company has been around for a couple of years working on a very unusual metal deposition system. Rather than focus on one of the traditional metal 3D printing deposition technologies, they’ve chosen to use two in one machine.
The core of their technology is this amazing print head, which enables the use of two different types of materials. In the center is a route where a standard metal welding wire can be extruded. As it emerges from the nozzle, a laser instantly melts it for adhesion to the growing print structure.
However, the four angled elements on alongside the tool head core are also in play. They allow focused streams of fine metal powder to be blown towards the focal point — the same region as the wire deposition. The same laser can melt this powder in a similar manner to gradually build up an object.
You can see how the Additec process works in this short video, where they are using the wire deposition process:
Additec offers this technology as an add-on for existing CNC machines, thus transforming them into powerful metal 3D printers, as well as custom building larger-sized metal 3D printers.
But for now the company is offering the μPrinter, (pronounced “micro printer”).
This is a small build volume metal 3D printer that is intended for use by researchers. One interesting capability is that it is possible to mix different types of metal powders within the same print job.
Aside from the unusual deposition technology, the main feature of the μPrinter is its price: only US$90K. This makes it notably affordable by research institutions as it is priced under the psychological and budget limit of US$100K.
It’s also under the price of a Desktop Metal Studio System. However, I don’t believe the Additec system is suitable for office use, as there are metal powders involved (at least sometimes) and their presence causes a chain reaction of environmental requirements.
We’re told the company has been making them available for purchase for a few months now, and to their surprise they’ve sold over 15 units thus far. This was greater than their expectations, suggesting they may be on to something here.
Additec New Machine
What’s next for Additec? We were told they will make an appearance at formnext in Frankfurt later this year, the first venture to a large event outside of their US home. There, they expect to announce the details on a much larger device that uses the same technology, with a build volume of possibly near 500 x 500 x 750 mm. That’s big!
I’m impressed with what Additec has been able to achieve in such a short time, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they develop next.