Desktop Metal was recently granted two seminal patents by USPTO for its inventions in both Studio and Production Systems. These patents will further boost the company’s prospects and even help the overall metal 3D printing ecosystem.
FDM & SLA printing has been at the forefront of the 3D printing revolution. Both these methods have captured the imagination of the masses and the industry alike. They have been the driving force in the growth of the industry but same is not the case with metal 3D printing. Due to some inherent restrictions and technological limitations, it has fallen behind. But innovations by Startups like Desktop Metal are helping metal 3D printing gain the lost ground.
The prevailing technique of metal printing involves the use of the material in a powdered form which melts on the application of a UV laser. These powdered sintering methods used in metal 3D printing are too messy and too technical for people to actually implement it in their workflow. Not only is it costly but it has to have a closed environment where the prints, almost always, need to be post-processed. For complex parts, the dimensional accuracy is affected as extra material sticks to the main part. The unused powder has to be captured and stored for further use. Moreover, the powder can be sintered again only for a limited number of times before it begins to lose its properties and it becomes useless. FDM and SLA printers provide much more flexibility coupled with the ease of operation. An office premise can easily incorporate an FDM or SLA printer but it simply cannot have metal printing machines due to obvious reasons. In short metal 3D printing has been restricted mostly to the industrial environment.
There is a huge demand for the metal printing market but the technology is yet to fully evolve. A startup, Desktop Metal, is working on metal printers for the desktop. It launched two metal printing systems in the past year DM Studio System and DM Production System. Both of them have been a runaway hit. While the Studio System was targeted as an Office friendly metal 3D printing system which has a 3 machine system of a 3D Printer, a De-binder and a Furnace, the Production system was designed for mass 3d printing. The Production system is the first metal printer which allows for easy removal of support structures. As easy as removing them by hand (similar to what you experience in an FDM printer). This makes the process immensely simple.
The Studio system began selling from December 2017 while the production system will start shipping its orders only in the latter half of 2018.
The patents granted to Desktop Metal on 3rd January 2018 will prove to be extremely valuable to the entire metal 3D printing ecosystem. Desktop Metal has more than 100 patents pending and these two patents are reflective of the bright future metal 3D printing will probably see.
According to the Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of Desktop Metal, Jonah Myerberg, “The technological innovation in these patents enables users, for the first time, to print large metal parts with complex geometries that can be easily removed from their support structures by hand or to print metal objects with separable interlocking structures.”
This new innovation will go a long way in developing desktop metal printers of the future. Easy removal of support structures, use of multiple metals during printing, high accuracy of printing and elimination of the powder is a revolutionary achievement. The patent has not only cemented this technology but also given great hope to the future of metal 3D printing.