Prodways announced a major development in 3D printing technology. The company's research-and-development teams have been collaborating for 2 years with CEA-LITEN, an institute of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, on a new metal 3D printing process using metal powder combined with organic binders. This project has just seen its first successful production of titanium parts using this new exclusive process.
If it were to be ramped up to series production scale, this new technology would offer substantial advantages compared to the highest performance methods currently in use:
Offers a printing process that is up to five times faster than direct metal 3D printing;
Has the ability to work with all types of metals (including titanium, Inconel, cobalt-chrome, etc.);
Resolves problems related to health, safety, and the environment (with a process that does not produce fine particles, using very fine powders);
Reduces overall operation time and production costs;
Requires less energy, as the energy normally used to fuse metal is provided by an oven and not a laser;
Provides a very high degree of precision that is not possible with current metal 3D printing technology.
Prodways says it is still facing numerous challenges in development, but this first successful production, a result of a 2-year research study, is a major step forward.
Furthermore, Prodways obtained the first conclusive results in refining the process by using MOVINGLight® technology for indirect fabrication of metal parts. These technologies, such as the lost wax casting process, can make tools, master patterns, or unique moulds that make it possible to fabricate high performance metal parts. In particular, this technology can create master pattern geometries that are more complex. Prodways is also developing new resins that can optimize this technology for casting metal parts. This indirect process, which is often used in the aeronautic and automotive industries, is currently being tested at several leading companies in these sectors.
Lastly, the group notes that with a fleet of approximately 10 machines dedicated to metal, and more than 10 years of experience in the sector, Initial is one of the largest French players in metal 3D printing parts production (titanium, Inconel, etc.). The Prodways subsidiary also has reinforced its offer by acquiring a new metal fusing machine so that it can optimally meet the requirements of the aeronautics and medical sectors.
Changes are sweeping the metal 3D printing technology industry, with General Electric's $1.4 billion buyout of the two biggest players in the sector. The Prodways group, a subsidiary of Groupe Gorgé, intends to strengthen its efforts in metal additive manufacturing to enrich its offer.