Desktop Metal debuts in Continuous Fiber 3D Printing

It’s official. Desktop Metal challenges Markforged in Continuous Fiber 3D Printing. The metal AM specialist launches its first desktop 3D printer. Named Fiber™, the desktop 3D Printer can produce high resolution parts with industrial grade continuous fiber composite materials used in automated fiber placement (AFP) processes.

In a recent article, we were explaining that Composites in 3D Printing increasingly raise investors’ interest. Some of the reasons that explain this interest include the fact that metals might not always be sufficiently lightweight enough. Secondly, most 3D Printing Systems cannot print continuous carbon-fiber reinforced thermoplastic polymers, not to mention that new entrants to the market challenge the 3D Printing composites market.

Before Desktop Metal’s entrance into this market, Roboze, Anisoprint and Continuous Composites are a few other names that were already distinguished themselves among other companies of this segment. However, Desktop Metal creates more media hype when we know that its biggest competitor is in the field for a few years now. Moreover, companies will benefit from a new automated fiber placement (AFP) processes.

The Automated fiber placement (AFP) processes.

The US-based manufacturer promises “a superior level of strength and stiffness” for the printed parts and “a broad range of materials” on a system that traditionally required million-dollar AFP systems. Indeed, the company will deliver the market two models of Fiber print platforms:

  • The first one starts at $5,495 per year and is intended for the production of parts with continuous composites having <1 percent porosity and up to 60 percent continuous fiber loading with advanced matrix, including PEEK and PEKK. Flame retardant parts produced on this system can withstand high temperatures up to 250 degrees Celsius, in addition to ESD compliant parts.
  • The second one, Fiber LT, is more affordable ($3,495 per year) and can produce high strength, ESD compliant, non-marring parts using continuous fiber with <5 percent porosity with PA6 thermoplastics.

Excitement can be felt from various customers

Companies are already excited to work with Desktop Metal Continuous fiber 3D printing:

“Despite all the advantages, polymer-based AM has been lacking in the strength needed for high performance applications, specifically a technology that bridges the gap between existing AM technology and automated fiber placement of high-performance composites as used in industry,” said David Hauber, Engineering Manager of Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Albany, Inc. “After more than three decades of development, AM has finally reached a tipping point. With Desktop Metal’s new AM technology, engineers will be able to print industrial quality, continuous fiber reinforced composite structures.”

“Weight is everything in racing,” said Will Turner, President of Turner Motorsport. “Being able to replace critical metal components with 3D printed continuous fiber means we can retain the strength of metal while lowering the overall weight of the car — making it even faster and more competitive.”

First printers are scheduled to ship in Spring 2020.

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