“Metal serial production is the holy grail,” says Matt Petros, chief executive officer of Gardena, California-based 3DEO. “We intend to deliver hundreds of thousands of parts, creating additive technology at scale.”
Although additive manufacturing (AM) has been around for decades, it’s much younger than metal fabrication. That’s what makes it appeal to so many metal fabricators, including those who will be stopping by the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion at next month’s FABTECH® show in Atlanta. There’s an excitement to it, a feeling of untapped possibilities. There’s hype, of course, but within that hype are gems of opportunity, and sheet metal fabricators are just starting to find them.
Digging into metal additive manufacturing quickly reveals how expensive it can be, as some parts produced using incumbent technologies, such as laser sintering and binder jetting, can cost thousands of dollars. If there's one lesson Matt Sand, President of 3DEO, a Los Angeles, California-based metal AM parts supplier, has learned over the last few years, it's that cost is everything when it comes to serial production.
The central driver behind 3DEO is this: “a maniacal focus on making parts,” says Matt Sand, company president. The Gardena, California, startup is beginning to ramp up production, turning out thousands of metal 3D-printed parts per month. But 3DEO isn’t just an AM user. The company is also a technology developer, having created its own printer, software and process all for the purpose of volume production.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), is one of the most exciting manufacturing technologies talked about today. We are now seeing a second modern wave of interest and enthusiasm for 3D printing with advances appearing in news feeds everyday across markets including consumer, industrial, automotive, aerospace, medical, and many more.
The perception that additive manufacturing is strictly a prototyping technology is quickly going by the wayside, largely thanks to companies which are using AM for production applications. One of the companies pushing AM production steadily ahead and which is proving its viability for making end-parts is California-based 3DEO.
Given the optimism that metal AM will continue to grow in relevance for series production, it's natural to focus on future potential and skim over the present. However, that forward-looking mindset obscures the exciting developments already taking place in 3D metal printing. The technology as a tool to be used in full production runs is not some distant possibility. It's already here. 3DEO's president Matt Sand details five current examples of how metal AM is changing manufacturing at scale.
With additive manufacturing (AM) becoming an established part of many companies’ product development and manufacturing processes, there has been a growing understanding of the technology’s technical and business advantages. With that, more users at all points in the value chain are benefitting from lighter and more durable parts, increased design freedom and on-demand part production.