The new Markforged Metal X is pretty great. It is a full metal 3D printer that generates real metal parts out of powdered metal which is then hardened under massive heat and allows for amazingly strong and light materials.
The printer uses tubes of powered metal bound with plastic. The “extruder” first creates the shapes on a regular build plate and then you bond the material in a small furnace. This reduces the size of the object but the printer can scan the objects it builds and assess the shrinkage associated with the heating process so it can automatically improve the design on the fly.
The company calls its new technology Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing or ADAM. The system allows for very unique design features including the ability to add honeycomb internal structures to lower the weight of parts.
The build volume is 200x200x250mm and has a 50 micron layer height. The objects that come out of this machine are nearly indistinguishable from cast parts and they are amazingly strong.
The machine can print the following metals:
17-4 Stainless Steel
303 Stainless Steel
6061 Aluminum (Beta)
7075 Aluminum (Beta)
A-2 Tool Steel (Beta)
D-2 Tool Steel (Beta)
IN Alloy (Inconel) 625 (Beta)
Titanium Ti-6Al-4V (Beta)
The “beta” materials aren’t yet in production but they will be soon. The team at Markforged is actually rebuilding a motorcycle from scratch using the machine and have already begin with a few non-structural parts. The plan is to offer the product not as a way to build final products but to create one-off projects and molds for cast and injection molded items.
Everything about this printer is amazing except, I suspect, the price. At $99,000 you won’t be installing this in the basement just yet but it’s great to know that something like this exists – and will soon be spooling out metal parts at quite a clip.