Aberdeenshire OEM Defiant3D has announced the launch of its Defiant200 metal additive manufacturing system at TCT 3Sixty in Birmingham this week.
The company has developed its patent-pending Cold Deposit and Sinter technology after encountering hurdles around affordability for existing metal 3D printing technology. Director Gary Cairns, who also heads up polymer 3D printing service bureau PlastiPrint 3D, had been interested in expanding the company's 3D printing capabilities to include metal, but could not justify the cost of other technologies on the market.
After a five-year R&D journey, Defiant3D is now readying to commence shipments of the Defiant200 system in Q1 of 2024, with units available to pre-order for 40,000 GBP.
"We're looking to reduce the cost of metal 3D printing," Cairns told TCT. "Realistically, if I went out to the marketplace today, looking for a metal 3D printer, it's a 100,000 pounds starting point, along with all the ancillary equipment that goes along with it. This machine is 40,000 pounds and that comes with the printer and the slicing software, that’s a full package developed for this machine."
The Defiant200 machine is equipped with a 200 x 200 x 200 mm furnace, with printhead technology depositing two powders into the build volume. The first powder, currently only 316L stainless steel, is used as the build material, while the second is a support powder with a higher melting point. Moving along the XY axis, the tool head deposits both powders into the furnace, with the Z axis in the furnace gradually moving downwards.
Once the volume of the furnace is filled with powder, the lid comes down, seals the furnace, and thermal elements inside the lid heat the furnace up to the sintering temperature of the metal. Throughout this process, the support material remains a powder, while the build material is sintered into a solid object. The support material is then easily removed, with the parts moving onto whichever post-processing steps, such as sand blasting or machining, are required.
Defiant3D is the result of a pain point experienced by PlastiPrint 3D as it explored the potential of expanding into metal 3D printing.
Unable to justify the cost of existing technologies, a shower thought five years ago led Cairns to set about developing Cold Deposit and Sinter. A prototype machine was designed and developed three years ago, with the latest iteration – the one showcased on the TCT 3Sixty show floor – assembled in the last six months. Much of the machines components, such as the machined aluminium components, and the welding is done in-house, while the machine’s panels are produced by a local company.
With Defiant3D aiming for first deliveries of its machine in Q1 2024, the company is now allowing customers to reserve printers.
The company also told TCT it intends to explore tool steels, Inconel and titanium materials, in addition to 316L stainless steel, while there is also scope to process copper, brass, aluminium and precious metals in the future. Defiant3D also recognises opportunities to scale its machine up or down, with a particular mention made to developing a smaller system that runs at a lower temperature and is available at a lower cost.
"This is the first one we're releasing, but there's a huge amount of scope going forward to expand on the technology," Cairns said. "Because we will have the patent, we then have that scope to develop those variations."