Sharebot's New Metal 3D Printer
Sharebot announced a metal 3D printer, the first for the Italy-based company.
Sharebot is one of the oldest desktop 3D printer companies in the world, and we've been seeing them at trade shows for over six years. They're easy to recognize at a tradeshow because for some reason they always have this stretch version of a desktop 3D printer on display:
But that machine was really an early model from the company. Since then they have vastly expanded their product line adding a number of 3D printers that use different processes. In addition to plastic extrusion, they also offer a powder-based SLS device they call “SnowWhite”, and SLA machines as well.
Having exhausted all the other notable 3D printing processes, it was inevitable that the company would make their way into metal 3D printing. And that now is official with the announcement of the MetalONE.
The MetalONE uses the familiar powder bed/laser metal 3D printing process, one that is used by several other competing vendors. Sharebot says that the printer is intended for production use, as well as for research into new types of metal powders for 3D printing.
The machine is equipped with a 200W fiber laser, that uses the 1070nm frequency. The building volume is actually not particularly large, at 65 x 65 x 100 mm, so if you're looking to 3D print large metal parts, this is probably not the best option. That said, there are plenty of applications for small metal parts, and I see no reason why Sharebot could not sell many of these devices.
Sharebot says that the system is certified to use AISI 316L steel powder, but it is clear they intend to certify many more materials. Of course, operators will be able to experiment on their own, which will be greatly assisted by Sharebot’s software because it permits easy print parameter changes.
One interesting feature of the MetalONE is the atmospheric control system. As a reminder, powder bed/laser units have a serious challenge: metal powders are actually explosive when exposed to heat from a laser in an oxygen atmosphere. To overcome this, most systems replace the atmosphere of the build chamber with some type of inert gas, such as argon or nitrogen.
Sharebot’s system uses a “modified atmosphere” by means of an onboard nitrogen generator. This means that operators of the MetalONE may not be required to purchase separate nitrogen gas cylinders from chemical suppliers.
Sharebot tells us that they expect to have the machine on the market for sale to the public before the end of the year, at a price less than €100K (US$113K). At this price level, it would place the MetalONE among the lowest-priced powder bed/laser options on the market.
One more thing: before Sharebot releases the machine they require five beta testers to try out the product and provide them with feedback on its operation. If you're interested in becoming one of these few beta testers, I suggest you contact Sharebot right away.