Many companies are working to make additive manufacturing faster with part costs on par with those made by machining and injection molding. One of the latest entrants into this faster additive manufacturing space is 3DEO, an employee-owned metal additive manufacturing company. The employees have developed an innovative way to speed up metal additive manufacturing. Using a technique President Matt Sand calls a cousin to binder jetting, the technique combines binder jetting with milling.
Noted Sand, typical binder jetting has a drawback in that the yield is usually 60%. 3DEO wanted to improve that figure. So the engineers stripped some complexity out of the binder jetting process. The machine uses a different spray system to spread the binder over the entire build bed. Then a CNC end mill cuts the perimeter of the part. The process of depositing binder on the next layer of metal and cutting out the perimeter repeats until the part is built.
Once built, the part is removed and goes through a sintering process in a MIM furnace to burn out the binder material.
One of the benefits of this approach is the quality of the surface finish. It delivers tolerances of +/- 0.005 in./in., which can be better with secondary operations. Engineered densities are up to +99% relative to wrought.
Sand claims this process will reduce final part cost by as much as 80%, and is targeted at production volumes of 100 to more than 10,000 pieces. This type of system is a hybrid, combining additive and subtractive together.