Metal Printing with the Markforged Metal X


3D printing has revolutionized manufacturing and has continued to gain popularity over the last few years. Markforged released their first 3D printer, the Mark One back in 2014, and have continued to make major technological advances in the last three years. In the beginning of 2017, they announced the release of the world’s first all-inclusive 3D metal printer, the Metal X.

The Markforged Metal X is the first metal 3D printer of its kind.

Metal printing can significantly improve your manufacturing processes by speeding up part creation and reducing the costs that are typically associated with creating intricate metal parts. The Metal X prints at a 50-micron resolution and its associated software automatically scale up parts to accommodate shrinkage that occurs during the sintering process. It has a build volume of 250mm x 220mm x 200 mm providing engineers with enough space to print large parts or complete batch prints.

Plus, you have multiple metal materials options including:

  • Aluminum (6061 and 7075)
  • Inconel (IN Alloy 625)
  • Titanium (Ti-6A1-4V)
  • Tool Steel (A-2 and D-2)
  • Stainless Steel (17-4 and 316L)

All of these materials vary in strength and flexibility, so you can easily select the right material to fit your project’s needs.

How it Works: ADAM Technology

The Metal X uses ADAM technology to create strong metal parts. ADAM stands for “atomic diffusion additive manufacturing” and stems from techniques traditionally used in composite 3D printing.

ADAM technology utilizes techniques from composite 3D printing to improve the safety of the entire printing process.

Process

  1. Design: Parts are designed using whichever CAD program the engineer prefers. Once the design is complete, the part is uploaded into the cloud-based Eiger software. The Eiger software optimizes the part design based on preferred metal material and increases the size to accommodate sinter shrinkage.
  2. Print: The Metal X prints the powder bound in plastic layer-by-layer as with traditional 3D printing methods, creating the “green” part.
  3. Wash: “Green” parts are washed to remove the excess binder, leaving the remaining “brown” part ready for sintering.
  4. Sinter: “Brown” parts are baked into their final form, with a density of up to 99.7% and can be used like any other metal part.

Once metal parts are sintered they have a density of up to 99.7% and can be used like any other metal part.

Benefits

ADAM technology provides organizations with numerous benefits including:

  • Safety: Traditionally, to create intricate metal parts, metal powders were laid on a bed and fused using lasers or electron beams. Although this method was effective, the metal powders were highly volatile, unsafe, and had to be used under specific conditions. ADAM technology instead uses powders bound within plastic, which makes them easier to handle, non-flammable, and safe to breathe.
  • Strength: Since the binder completely dissolves during the sintering process, engineers can create fully enclosed structures, which significantly increases part strength. Previously, engineers had to leave an exit hole in the design to ensure the metal powder had a place to exit the part and did not get trapped inside.
  • Structure: In addition to increasing design strength, the ability to close designs allows engineer to create extremely intricate and complex internal structures. These structures make it possible to create incredibly strong parts that weigh very little.
  • Savings: 3D printing has reduced the cost of manufacturing significantly and the metal printing with the Metal X is no exception. The low cost of the printer combined with the high resolution and quality provides engineers with more ways to utilize metal parts than ever before.

Once metal parts are sintered they have a density of up to 99.7% and can be used like any other metal part.

Post Processing Hardware

The Metal X allows makes it easy to complete all the necessary post-processing so you can implement your part for use. Once the part is printed by the Metal X, it is essentially just a fragile pile of metal powder and glue and therefore has no practical use in the real world. These “green” parts must go through a two-part post-printing process before they can be utilized.

Post-Printing Process

  1. Wash: The 3D-printed parts must be washed to remove the excess binder, transitioning the “green” part into a “brown” part. This process allows the parts to unbind, leaving just the metal needed for the sintering process. By removing the excess binder, you can be sure that the final metal part will be “pure” and not have any inconsistencies or issues.
  2. Sinter: The remaining “brown” parts must be sintered in a furnace to fuse the metal powder into solid metal structures. The final sintering process also removes any binder that may have been leftover during the wash process.

 

Hardware

In order to finish your parts, Markforged offers three units to simplify the entire post-printing process: Wash-1, Sinter-1, and Sinter-2.

Markforged offers all of the post-processing tools engineers need to finish their parts with the Wash-1, Sinter-1, and Sinter-2 components.

The Wash-1 is used for the first step of post-processing. It takes the “green” freshly printed part and washes it to become a “brown” part. Then the Sinter-1 and Sinter-2 can be used to fuse the metal powder into the final part. The only difference between the Sinter-1 and Sinter-2 are their volumes.

The Sinter-1 size is slightly smaller than the Metal X itself, making it the perfect furnace for medium-sized parts or smaller batch prints. Whereas, the Sinter-2 has the exact same volume as the Metal X print bed, allowing engineers to print large parts or complete large batch prints.

Eiger Software

One of the main components of the Metal X is Markforged’s Eiger software. This advanced cloud-based software is included with all Markforged printers to optimize CAD designs for metal printing and all types of 3D printing. The software works directly within the browser of your choice making it easy to import CAD drawings and create metal parts. Once designs are imported, Eiger analyzes and optimizes the parts for pressure points. This allows the printer to create the strongest parts possible with the most efficient routing and slicing.

Eiger software optimizes designs to ensure that parts are printed with the most efficient routing and slicing, while also maintaining their strength and durability.

Eiger also allows you to monitor their prints in real-time, whether you are monitoring print progress across a fleet of printers or just using one. Progress is tracked on a centralized interface so you can easily start and stop prints as needed without ever having to manually check the printer.

Why the Metal X? Major Cost Savings Potential

Besides all of the amazing metal printing features the Markforged Metal X has, it also provides significant cost savings compared to other manufacturing methods. It is the first metal 3D printer in this price class, with a starting price of just under $100,000. Plus, besides just the cost savings associated with the price of the printer, the Metal X provides major manufacturing costs savings as well.

The Metal X can print parts at prices that are:

  • 10x less expensive than traditional metal additive manufacturing methods
  • 100x less expensive than traditional metal fabrication methods

Organizations can reduce production costs associated with creating metal parts by 98%.

The high-quality, durability, and savings associated with metal printing on the Metal X can have huge impacts in numerous industries including aerospace, medicine, petroleum, automotive manufacturing teams, and more.

Ready to revolutionize how you create metal parts in your organization? Contact us about purchasing the Metal X today!

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