More Metal – This Time Saving Lives!

More Metal – This Time Saving Lives!

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.

Via Arcam, 3News, Ponoko and TreeHugger


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2 Responses

  1. The company has it's HQ here in Gothenburg and I visited them two years or ago and got a tour of the facility. At that time they only had fifty-ish machines installed worldwide, even though they seemed reasonably priced (≈50k €) for what they were doing; Which was fabbing stuff which was used as drop-in replacements for planes and formula one cars, as well as bone substitution and substrate.

    As Bogdan points out, their selling point is that the resulting prints are as solid as cast objects. Now that I have a RepRap of my own I would be interested in knowing more about the software and modeling process than the sintering; I'm assuming they don't use nightly builds of Skeinforge…

  2. It’s Friday 13th, so all seems a bit mixed up.

    Arcam sold its first EBM system 7 years ago so it’s a well established technology.

    Their process is significantly different than ProMetal’s – Arcam consolidate metal powder by melting it with an electron beam (high temp) while ProMetal glues powder particles together (low temp) with an additional binder (which has to be burnt out after the build process).

    Sintef’s MPP (consolidation by high pressure and temperature) is still at a development stage and you cannot buy a turn-key system. Their primary advantage is the multi-material capability, not achievable with any other metal processing.

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