An Update On Digital Metal
Höganäs’ Digital Metal operation is doing very well.
The Sweden-based company produces a unique metal 3D printer that is able to reliably produce small metal objects with incredible resolution. We’ve covered them previously, having first seen them at an event in 2016. Since then they’ve introduced the machine to manufacturing and have made many equipment sales.
Today we find that they are doing an increasing amount of sales of equipment to aerospace, as that industry seems to have found a use for the unique Digital Metal equipment. This is quite interesting, as aerospace has been using metal 3D printing to produce larger parts in an effort to save weight, but apparently it can be done on the small scale as well.
This is not surprising, as here you can see one of Digital Metal’s example applications: it’s a simple nut and bolt. But if you look closely you’ll see that both of them have been manufactured with internal lattice structures. That would reduce the weight of the nut and bolt, while theoretically maintaining the necessary strength. And there’s a lot of bolts in an aircraft.
Digital Metal reports their existing customers have been returning to them to buy even more equipment, suggesting they’re finding significant utility 3D printing small metal objects. Apparently one of their clients has already produced over 40,000 metal parts with their machine.
Digital Metal is not merely selling the machine, but is working on various efficiency improvements to the machine itself and associated processes. For example, they are working on a “no hand” concept that enables taking the build box directly to a powder station.
They’re also developing an automated blower to remove loose metal particles from a completed print, as their process uses a binder jet approach that leaves prints buried in metal powder at job completion.
Many binder jet machines use blowers for this reason, but Digital Metal’s new approach will involve a CNC-controlled blower that will be aware of the geometry for the model and thus will be able to achieve a far better “blow” than that received by “dumb” blowers. I understand this may be released by Q3 of this year.
At their factory in, where else, Höganäs, Sweden, they’ve expanded their footprint to permit a 50% increase in space. This has allowed them to hire more “material development guys”. That suggests we may see the company certifying additional metal powders for use in their DM P2500 machine.
Their product is quite unique in the world of 3D printing, and should be of interest to anyone considering making complex, small and highly detailed objects. This could include jewelry, fine machine parts and many more possibilities.
Via Digital Metal