Push Button Metal: Players in Low-Cost PBF Metal 3D Printing
As you may have learned from part one of this series , there is a 3D printing metal evolution that has been going on for the past two years. Aside from the much-publicized hype in binder jet by HP, Desktop Metal, GE and Markforged there are alternatives firms working away from the limelight. Companies such as One Click Metal, LMI, Sharebot, Xact Metal and Meltio have been rolling out low-cost metal 3D printers. They aim to make accessible metal printers that are easy to use in semi-factory environments. This is a considerable market, potentially taking metal 3D printing to the hundreds of thousands of workshops, factories and engineering firms worldwide. This is the biggest opportunity you’ve never thought about. Today, we’re going to look at some of the market participants and what they need to solve.
Don’t hate me, this list is not exhaustive.
One Click Metal
One Click Metal is a German firm that is completely under the radar for most people but has a lot of potential. The company is essentially a startup within Trumpf, one of the world’s largest suppliers of industrial lasers and metal forming equipment. Trumpf is dependable and has an incredible depth of knowledge in lasers and metalworking; it is, however, slow and stodgy. For them to go the Skunkworks route and enable this faster innovative startup is therefore nothing short of brilliant.
You can get a Bold series laser powder bed fusion (PBF) 3D printer for $55,000 . An Mpure unpacking station is $21,000. The station recycles powder, sieves it and helps you unpack parts. You can also get a starter package for aluminum , stainless steel and tool steel. Consumables are sold in 10-kilo cartridges and include a deposit for the cartridge. The company says it wants to make pricing on consumables reasonable. All of the pricing for all of the components is transparent and available in an online shop. The company also has a monthly subscription for a software package at different tiers that can prep and simulate parts , as well as a training program .
All in all, I love the transparency and completeness of the proposition that One Click Metal offers. The fact that it has the Trumpf name and expertise behind it, as well, is a huge plus for me. What they don’t seem to have is a lot of aggressiveness and killer instinct for marketing and growth.
Laser Melting Innovations
Laser Melting Innovations is another German firm, this one is a spin-out of Fraunhofer ILT is comfortably nestled in the hands of industrial molding and manufacturing equipment company Kurtz Ersa. That firm has revenues of around $230 million and 1,200 employees. The Alpha printer has open process settings and is available for purchase. The system can process some nickel alloys, stainless steel, tool steels and the team is working on aluminum.
This company has placed the optics on a motion stage and uses nitrogen as gas...