SPEE3D announced a new mobile metal additive manufacturing platform, XSPEE3D.
The Australian company made news years ago when it announced a revolutionary supersonic metal 3D printing process. Their equipment blasts fine metal particles at a target at literally supersonic speeds that cause the metal to instantly bond. By moving the toolhead in 3D space, they are able to very quickly 3D print metal objects. Additionally, their process works with a wide variety of metals, including copper, which is quite difficult to 3D print with other systems.
Notably, the SPEE3D process is quite fast compared to other 3D printing processes, although it cannot achieve very fine details. The “spot size” resolution is said to be 6mm.
For some time now the company has been working with the Australian armed forces, and it now appears that work has resulted in XSPEE3D, a mobile 3D print station.
Inside the box is not only the SPEE3D supersonic metal 3D printer, but also “all auxiliary equipment” required to complete metal prints. The system requires only input power (3-phase, 415V, 80A) and can operate in a variety of “harsh conditions”. It can even be tilted to an astonishing 45 degrees and still work properly.
SPEE3D said XSPEE3D is able to handle twelve different metals, including copper, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium and other commonly used materials.
The XSPEE3D’s printer’s build volume is cylindrical, with a 1000mm diameter and 700mm height, enabling the ability to 3D print large metal objects weighing up to 40kg.
The intention here is to 3D print relatively large metal parts for machinery in the field.
That’s the key advantage of the XSPEE3D: it’s mobile. Being the dimensions of a standard 20ft shipping container, it can be transported easily by a variety of transportation methods to anywhere on Earth.
It’s also possible to carry the XSPEE3D via helicopter (it weighs only 10 tonnes) and deposit in remote locations. However, power will still have to be provided.
SPEE3D hasn’t said, but it is possible the military might experiment with air-dropping the XSPEE3D via parachutes to enable truly remote operation.
The obvious application for XSPEE3D technology is the military, where it could be placed in forward bases to enable the use of digital inventory for spare parts production. Instead of shipping spares to the field, they are simply made on site.
But aside from the military, there are a number of other possible applications.
One would be the marine industry, where ships at sea have no access to spare parts unless they accompany the ship. With the quick installation of an XSPEE3D, the ship could itself produce some spare parts. This could potentially put a ship back in action right away, saving countless days of delays and associated costs and penalties.
Another application could be the mining industry, where heavy metal equipment is used in remote locations to process and handle ore. Should a machine break, it’s critical to get them back up as soon as possible, otherwise substantial revenue would be lost. By having an ability to make arbitrary spare parts on site, significant savings could be made.
There would be similar applicability in the oil and gas industry.
It seems that SPEE3D has created a very unique additive manufacturing capability with the XSPEE3D, and no doubt they will sell plenty of them.