For metal 3D printing to compete with metal injection molding, perhaps the two technologies should work together.
That’s the thinking behind Desktop Metal’s latest partnership. The company has just announced a strategic partnership with Indo-MIM, the world’s largest metal injection molding (MIM) supplier.
Metal 3D printing at scale is a realizable, but still very much in-the-works strategic plan for industry. Scale production at speeds and costs competitive to those of traditional MIM will be (as much as I hate this wildly overused phrase) an actual game-changer.
And if there’s something Indo-MIM understands well, it’s scale; the company supplies more than 100 million metal parts each year to customers in more than 30 countries around the world. When we talk scale, those are the sorts of numbers we’re looking at as an as yet pie-in-the-sky ideal for additive manufacturing.
But if there’s a company pulling to ground those dreams in firm reality, it’s Desktop Metal. Their Production System uses a unique Single Pass Jetting technology that is targeted squarely at volume production. And as promising as that’s sounded, they’re always working on more, on making it bigger, better, and faster.
The company, a verified unicorn with high valuation and big plans, is working with Indo-MIM now to develop “innovative solutions to enable companies around the world to design and produce metal additively manufactured parts at scale and shorten time to market.”
What does that actually mean?
To begin, Indo-MIM is installing a Production System this summer, offering services to customers as early as this autumn. The system will be set up in its facility in San Antonio, Texas, where the Indo-MIM team houses significant expertise in metals manufacturing.
The strategic partnership will see Indo-MIM “become a full-service manufacturing partner for Desktop Metal,” they say, implementing the Production System into its offerings for metal parts in the tens of thousands to the millions range of orders, as well as offering consulting services.
“…Both Desktop Metal and Indo-MIM are deeply rooted in MIM technology and we share an unbridled commitment to accelerate the availability of industrial additive manufacturing technologies. This collaboration with Indo-MIM will help deliver the power and promise of our Production System to companies with diverse manufacturing needs and to shift the paradigm from prototyping to include full scale metal manufacturing,” said Desktop Metal CEO and Co-Founder Ric Fulop.
For this new metal additive manufacturing process to take hold, especially with established metal customers, this strategic partnership with a well-regarded major supplier familiar with customer markets and all that goes into metal part production is a big step forward.
We often point out that 3D printing isn’t THE solution; there will never be just one solution that meets all needs, that’s not how the world works. Different users have different needs, and those different needs are best addressed by different approaches. While 3D printing may, for example, be the best way to produce a complex aerospace component, traditional MIM may be the best solution for 200,000 simpler components. Bringing the two together, leveraging the best of both worlds, allows customers to gain access to the same expertise for their needs both simple and complex.
“As the world’s largest MIM house, we know our customers in automotive, aerospace and other key industries will reap the benefits of this new mass manufacturing technology. We are excited to partner with Desktop Metal to bring metal additive manufacturing closer to those companies looking to achieve the speed, cost, and quality benefits to their businesses. With the Production System now joining our state-of-the-art factories, we will be fully integrated to provide customers with a one-stop resource for the manufacturing of complex precision components and sub-assemblies with additive manufacturing,” said Krishna Chivukula, Jr., CEO of Indo-MIM.
Via Desktop Metal