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14 March 2017

Order books open for £90,000 metal additive manufacturing machine

Sample part
HK Technologies’ new metal AM machine, the new Metal X from USA-based Markforged uses a new non-powder-based process whose benefits are said to include rapid material changeovers and a price point of less than £90,000.

Its Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) process prints parts using a bound metal powder rod that transforms into a dense metal part in one easy step. Bulk sintering provides crystal growth through all axes, giving parts favourable mechanical properties in all directions. The ADAM process also enables the creation of unique geometries such as closed-cell honeycomb infill, which are said to not be possible using traditional subtractive manufacturing processes or DMLS. Furthermore, the ADAM process eliminates the requirement for metallic powder consumables by using nylon reels infused with metallic powders; that means that the Metal X can be used in the office environment alongside a PC.

The Metal X can currently print with 303 and 17-4 stainless steel with a 50 micron layer height, and beta-testing is underway for 6061 & 7075 aluminium, A2 & D2 tool steel, Inconel 625 and Titanium Ti-6Al-4V.

The ADAM process on the Metal X enables end users to change from one material to another in minutes, with no remaining powder residue to remove from the machine.

The Metal X has a work envelope of 200 by 250 by 220 mm (X, Y and Z).

The machine’s in-process inspection enables users to scan parts mid-print, thanks to Markforged's cloud-based Eiger software and a laser displacement sensor that is fixed to the print head. Customers can define a tolerance specification in the Eiger software, and the cloud-based 3D printing software will communicate with the Metal X to instruct the machine to scan parts while it is printing. This ensures that the Metal X always meets the desired specification and tolerance band. If an error is detected, the user will be alerted and they can choose to cancel the print remotely, saving time and material.

The machine is now available to order for September 2017 delivery from HK3D.

Will Dalrymple

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