There seems to be a race brewing between two Australian firms in the matter of fast metal 3D printing.
SPEE3D Metal 3D Printer
In the one corner we have Melbourne-based SPEE3D, who have developed a unique – and rather fast – method of supersonic 3D printing. We’ve covered them previously, but basically their process uses kinetic energy to join metal particles together.
Their system accepts standard metal powders and accelerates them to literally supersonic speeds. The particles are guided precisely to a target where they impact and fuse together. Over time the multi-axis system moves about to blast a part into existence.
The SPEE3D process is very quick, and as a sensational demonstration at Formnext they were able to 3D print a 1kg “Thor Hammer” in only 10:02, in front of a live crowd, no less. You can see the print take place in this video:
At that rate they were depositing material at approximately 1.7g per second, or 6.05kg per hour, or 145kg per 24-hour day. That’s rather fast for any metal 3D printer.
Of course, SPEE3D’s process is unable to handle very fine details and thus it is limited to certain coarse geometries. Fine surface finishing is typically done with a post-print CNC milling operation. However, there are endless potential clients worldwide for their equipment as they essentially replace the need for the usual foundry equipment.
Aurora Labs Metal 3D Printer
In the other corner is Perth-based Aurora Labs, who are also developing a metal 3D printer. Their unique process involves use of a grating to create a multiple stage pipeline that dramatically increases 3D print throughput. Instead of creating one layer of an object per pass over the print bed, they are able to create multiple layers all in the same pass. This parallel approach is enormously scalable and should allow the company to 3D print huge metal objects quickly.
Their goal is to literally 3D print 1000kg metal objects in a single day. As of this writing, they have yet to achieve that goal, but they have been making steady progress towards it. Their most recent benchmark has been to 3D print at the rate of 350kg per day. However, this is only the 3D printing rate and they did not actually 3D print a 350kg object.
The Fastest Metal 3D Printers
So there you have it: two Australian firms racing to make the fastest metal 3D printer. One can achieve 350kg per day, and the other 145kg per day, both substantially greater than traditional metal 3D printing processes.
It’s very likely the speed advantage from either company will open up new applications that up to now were unable to properly participate in 3D printing.