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Desktop Metal Receives Multi-Million Dollar Award from Department Of Defense to Mass Produce Cobalt-Free Hardmetals

Cobalt-free hardmetals
Cobalt-free hardmetals
Above: Desktop Metal 3D Printing Systems/Image Source: Desktop Metal

Desktop Metal, a leader in mass production and turnkey additive manufacturing solutions, announced that it has been awarded Phase I of a three year $2.45 million dollar project from Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a sophisticated Additive Manufacturing (AM) process capable of mass producing Cobalt-free hardmetals, developed by the U.S. Army.

The project is expected to further progress green sustainable process to manufacture these novel Cobalt-free hardmetals and provide an environmentally friendly method to mass produce metals, alloys, cermets, and composite parts with superior properties for both commercial and DoD applications

Desktop Metal Production System

Cobalt-free hardmetals
Above: Desktop Metal Production System/Image Source: Desktop Metal

The Desktop Metal Production System™ with Single Pass Jetting (SPJ™), a proprietary AM technology developed by Desktop Metal, will mass manufacture complex shaped Cobalt-free hardmetal parts without tooling and is expected to lead to the development of a dual use technology with numerous applications in DoD as well as in the civilian sector.

This new process has the potential to change the landscape of the carbide hardmetals market which is projected to grow to $24 billion by 2024 (according to Global Market Insights) and is used in dual use applications including cutting tools, abrasion and chemical resistant nozzles, parts for the oil and gas sector, parts for the chemical and textile industry, tools used in agriculture and mining, steel industry, consumer goods and sporting goods, parts for off-road transportation, aerospace and defence sector, construction, and in tools and dies for chip-less materials forming.

Successful investigations by the U.S. Army in developing a novel iron-based nano material as the matrix in WC-based hardmetals, replacing Cobalt, has resulted in the development of a patented, novel Cobalt-free WC-(Fe-Ni-Zr)-based hardmetals. In tandem with the creation of this promising new material for commercial and DoD applications, the ARL has been in search of a cost-effective, high volume process capable of manufacturing the new Cobalt-free hardmetals into complex, net or near-net shaped parts without the use of any tooling.

Among the goals and requirements of the three-year project include:

  • Development of a feedstock and binder system for novel cobalt-free hardmetal;
  • Using the Desktop Metal SPJ process to print a sufficient quantity of components of at least 200,000 parts in one day from a single machine; and
  • Delivery of a cost analysis for scaling up its advanced SPJ binder jet manufacturing technique to successfully manufacture at least 500,000 prototype pieces.

According to Dr. Nicholas Ku, Materials Engineer, CCDC Army Research Laboratory, “The novel Cobalt-free hardmetals grade is expected to yield a high strength, high toughness, high hardness, and high wear resistance material. We believe combining this novel material with Desktop Metal’s Single Pass Jetting technology will have major applications not only in the defense sector but also in the commercial sector. Further, we believe this combined method will dramatically improve sustainability, reduce the use of a conflict mineral and provide an environmentally-friendly process to mass produce parts with superior properties.”

The project is issued to Desktop Metal by the U.S. Army Contracting Command – Aberdeen, Research Triangle Park, on behalf of U.S. Army Research Laboratory to the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) Advanced Manufacturing, Materials & Processes (AMMP) Consortium.


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