Boston – Desktop Metal, a leader in mass production and turnkey additive manufacturing solutions, announced today it has been awarded Phase I of a three year $2.45 million dollar project from Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a sophisticated Additive Manufacturing (AM) process capable of mass producing Cobalt-free hardmetals, developed by the U.S. Army.
The company’s Production System with Single Pass Jetting (SPJ), a proprietary AM technology developed by Desktop Metal, will mass manufacture complex shaped Co-free hardmetal parts without tooling and is expected to lead to the development of a dual-use technology with numerous applications in DoD as well as in the civilian sector.
This new process has the potential to change the landscape of the carbide hardmetals market which is projected to grow to $24 billion by 2024 and is used in dual-use applications including cutting tools, abrasion and chemical resistant nozzles, parts for the oil and gas sector, parts for the chemical and textile industry, tools used in agriculture and mining, steel industry, consumer goods and sporting goods, parts for off-road transportation, aerospace and defense sector, construction, and in tools and dies for chip-less materials forming.
The project is issued to Desktop Metal by the U.S. Army Contracting Command – Aberdeen, Research Triangle Park, on behalf of U.S. Army Research Laboratory to the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) Advanced Manufacturing, Materials & Processes (AMMP) Consortium.
Successful investigations by the U.S. Army in developing a novel iron-based nano material as the matrix in WC-based hardmetals, replacing Cobalt, has resulted in the development of a patented, novel Co-free WC-(Fe-Ni-Zr)-based hardmetals. In tandem with the creation of this promising new material for commercial and DoD applications, the ARL has been in search of a cost-effective, high volume process capable of manufacturing the new Co-free hardmetals into complex, net or near-net shaped parts without the use of any tooling.
Among the goals and requirements of the three-year project include:
• Development of a feedstock and binder system for novel cobalt-free hardmetal;
• Using the Desktop Metal SPJ process to print a sufficient quantity of components of at least 200,000 parts in one day from a single machine; and
• Delivery of a cost analysis for scaling up its advanced SPJ binder jet manufacturing technique to successfully manufacture at least 500,000 prototype pieces.
“The novel Co-free hardmetal grade is expected to yield a high strength, high toughness, high hardness, and high wear resistance material,” said Dr. Nicholas Ku, materials engineer, CCDC Army Research Laboratory.
“We believe combining this novel material with Desktop Metal’s Single Pass Jetting technology will have major applications not only in the defense sector but also in the commercial sector. Further, we believe this combined method will dramatically improve sustainability, reduce the use of a conflict mineral and provide an environmentally-friendly process to mass produce parts with superior properties.”
Desktop Metal Production System
Created by leading inventors of binder jetting and single-pass inkjet technology, the Desktop Metal Production System is designed to be the fastest way to 3D print metal parts at-scale.
The Production System leverages patent-pending SPJ technology to achieve print speeds up to 100 times those of legacy powder bed fusion additive manufacturing technologies and deliver up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of parts per year at costs competitive with conventional manufacturing. Whereas conventional binder jetting uses multiple carriages and passes over a build box to complete the steps required to print each layer, bi-directional SPJ on the Production System consolidates these steps into the motion of a single print carriage, dramatically reducing print time and removing wasted motions during printing to increase mechanical efficiency.