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New Possibilities for Metal 3D Printing

Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry recently ran a feature concerning the ways in which the company Desktop Metal aims to create new possibilities for metal 3D printing.  Indeed, Desktop Metal “seeks to make 3D printing more accessible and convenient.”

Desktop Metal “was originally founded around the idea of ‘democratizing the art of metal 3D printing.’”  In order to achieve this lofty goal, “the company devised two different types of platforms – a desktop system and a production system.”

As Desktop Metal CTO Jonah Myerberg explains: “we are seeing two different models in 3D printing, which will continue to grow.  A print and consume yourself model and a print for someone else model.”

Myerberg continues: “traditional metal 3D printing uses lasers to melt metal in order to form parts.  Materials need to be weldable, but not all materials are, so they haven’t been printable.  This steered us to bulk sintering, which uniformly raises the temperature of a part in a furnace, debinding it first and then fully densifying it into solid metal.”

Back in March (of 2019), “Desktop Metal expanded its production of the Studio System, the desktop 3D printing system launched in 2017, which includes a printer, a debinder (AKA wash tank), and a furnace.  Myerberg says “it is suited for low volumes – for the office environment.  It’s surprising to engineers when they discover you don’t need major infrastructure changes.  This type of printer is normally not located outside a lab.  We’ve simplified it significantly – just wheel it in, put it on a desk, and print.”

For this reason, Desktop Metal has garnered a lot of interest from medical device companies.  Other reasons include, according to Myerberg, “variety, or customization, so as to change a device to fit an individual need and the other reason is the opportunity to optimize the way they produce their current tools.  Raw materials are expensive, and machining wastes a lot of material – so you often cast or forge a rough part first, but the tooling for these rough parts is expensive and time consuming.  Instead, with 3D printing you can produce a near-net shape right from the printer without a need for expensive tooling.”

Myerberg concludes: “The idea of digital manufacturing is so powerful and will reinvent the way we manufacture metal parts.  You can create new geometries and customize for patients. And if all manufacturing is digital, you can transfer [files] over the Internet, making any geometry or device accessible anywhere in the world.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry

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