Metal manufacturing service 3DEO announced they’ve produced 150,000 metal parts using their unique process.
The California-based startup company has an interesting history. They developed an unusual 3D printing process that involves combining binder jetting and CNC milling. The process is inexpensive and allows for the production of small but highly-detailed metal objects in exceptionally high densities, greater than 99%.
The other very attractive feature of 3DEO’s technology is that it can use standard metal injection molding powder (MIM). This means their breadth of materials is literally identical to that in injection molding, and they don’t have the geometric constraints traditional manufacturing processes have when using MIM powder.
3DEO President Matt Sand once explained to me their strategy for growth, which didn’t involve selling machines using the technology, as would be done by most startups with powerful tech. Instead they decided to operate more like a service, whereby they would operate the equipment and taken on requests from clients.
This approach allows their staff to become deep experts on how best to run the equipment, including print parameters and other processing steps. It allows the company to not only grow, but learn a lot more about their technology and equipment in the process. This could set them up for a future development of a highly-usable 3D printer that they could sell, but that’s not in the cards quite yet.
The typical order for metal parts from 3DEO is for smaller quantities of up to 10,000 units. The parts themselves are typically small, with dimensions well under 200mm and with mass measured in grams. Most of the sample parts I’ve seen from 3DEO are small enough that you could hold dozens in one hand.
It’s a niche business, to be sure, but it’s an interesting market: if you could make small and strong metal parts without geometric constraints, what might you build? This is a 3D print application area that hasn’t been fully explored yet, and it could take some time for designers and manufacturers to get their heads around it.
Could designers realize they could 3D print tiny metal parts like this?
However, 3DEO is making big steps in that direction. Their CEO, Matt Petros, said:
“We are especially proud of the fact that every single customer we are working with is implementing metal AM in production for the first time. 3DEO’s unique business model and patented technology are the keys that allow 3DEO to finally break through and win parts orders in high volume production where it was previously impossible.”
That’s quite an accomplishment and something few other 3D print companies could boast.
Meanwhile, 3DEO appears to be successful with the announcement that they’ve been able to produce and ship over 150,000 parts for their clients thus far. And I should note that these are “production end-use” parts, not parts for prototyping. That’s indicative of the quality that 3DEO is able to produce with their process.
Things are looking good for 3DEO and their “tiny” strategy.