XJET announced the release of a new line of 3D printers, the Carmel series, which apparently can 3D print in metal OR ceramics.
This is quite unusual, but so is their 3D printing technology. We reviewed it earlier, but in brief their process involves using inkjet-style deposition of a liquid containing nano materials. The solidified liquid holds the printed part together while it is placed in a furnace, where the solidified liquid is evaporated, leaving the nano materials to fuse together.
Using this process they could theoretically 3D print a very wide variety of materials, but they, at least last year, told me they were focusing exclusively on metal 3D printing. I surmised that strategy was chosen because there was a bit of a rush to get 3D metal printers to market given GE’s extreme interest at the time.
However, since that time XJET first demonstrated a ceramic 3D print and now seems to have a product line capable of doing the same. Well, at least their are two models that can do this, the Carmel 700 and Carmel 1400, which appear to differ only in build volume.
I’m not quite sure what the implications of this development might be. It could mean that XJET sees a big opportunity in the ceramic market, or it could mean that XJET sees too much competition in the 3D metal printer market. Or both.
Regarding competition, since their machine came out there have been a number of other low-priced “cold process” 3D metal printer options appear, including Markforged and Desktop Metal. It may be they see these lower-priced alternatives taking a bit out of their market.
But then there also could be a huge opportunity in the ceramics market. Let me explain.
There is no big market for ceramic 3D print themselves; but instead industry could easily use ceramic prints as molds for casting metal. That could be an enormously large industry, as you can easily imagine metal producers using this tech to produce highly complex metal objects at relatively low cost.
We’ll find out more about XJET’s new product line when we attend FormNext in a couple of weeks, where they will be showing off their machines.