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ExOne’s Metal Designlab 3D Printing System Features Two-Step Process

ExOne collaborates with Rapidia to incorporate its two-step 3D printing technology, which enables water-bound metal and ceramic parts to go directly from a printer into a furnace without a debinding step.
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ExOne’s Metal Designlab printer and X1F advanced furnace is a complete metal 3D printing system.

ExOne’s Metal Designlab printer and X1F advanced furnace is a complete metal 3D printing system.

ExOne’s Metal Designlab printer and X1F advanced furnace is a complete metal 3D printing system, which features a two-step method of 3D printing and sintering water-bound metal parts. ExOne developed the system in partnership with Rapidia, a Vancouver, Canada-based technology company founded by Dan Gelbart, who now serves as a technology advisor to ExOne.

The company says the 3D printer operates with the ease of an entry-level plastic printer by utilizing a nozzle to build designs in HydroFuse, a water-based paste containing metal or ceramic powder. The process efficiency is made possible because HydroFuse does not require debinding before final sintering, which enables water-bound metal and ceramic parts to go directly from a printer into a furnace. The two materials currently offered with this system include 17-4PH and 316L stainless steels, with other metals and ceramics to follow.

On other systems, chemical or thermal debinding steps may take 3-5 days to deliver final parts. Those same systems can also limit parts to 5-10 mm (0.2"-0.4") thickness, which can limit the strength and applications for the final part.

By contrast, the HydroFuse paste developed by Rapidia replaces 98% of the binder with water, which evaporates while printing, thereby speeding up the printing process. The technology also removes the limitation on maximum part thickness. The Metal Designlab can print 100% solid metal of any thickness, delivering maximum strength parts suitable for a wide variety of demanding preproduction and end-use applications.

The X1F advanced furnace completes the process and offers about 10 liters of usable volume. It is also is well suited to complement ExOne’s binder jet lineup, including the Innovent+, InnoventPro 3L or 5L printers.

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