Berlin-based GEFERTEC has invented a new patented technology for metal 3D printing using a wire feedstock instead of powders. GEFERTEC’s 3DMP process is a hallmark of their arc603 and arc605 machines, both of which use modern arc welding-based workflows. As a result, unlike traditional arc welding, the devices use an electric arc for layer-by-layer deposition.
This is a unique system in the pantheon of metal additive manufacturing due to the absence of lasers and powders. While the system uses an electric arc welding, the company have tuned it to melt a wire that passes through the feedstock, enabling the successive layering of the prints as it deposits. The printers feature a highly flexible 3 to 5 motion axes, depending on which model it is. These provide a great degree of flexibility to the users, allowing for a range of possible shapes.
GEFERTEC’s 3DMP process is also a CNC milling/3D printing hybrid, using the milling process as a finishing method. Due to the presence of on-hand milling tech, the entire piece can be complete and ready with subtractive finishing on the printbed.
Printing With Wires
There are also certain design benefits to the use of wires as materials. While a lot of metals are available in wire form, this may not always be true of powders. Another benefit over powder systems is that powders are notoriously wasteful. This can be due to pieces shooting off in different direction upon heat contact or even print consistency issues. Using wires, on the other hand, apparently means that the entire material can be utilised and melted when passing through the feedstock.
The company states that the system’s advantages are:
- Nearly 100 % material utilisation
- Uncomplicated storage
- Low material costs
- Easy handling
- Optimum processability
- Extensive selection of materials
The process has 3 steps: printing an approximate estimation of the model, scanning and then finishing it off with the CNC system. The company also ensures that the process has no need for support structures. It’s certainly an interesting method with a new design approach. It’s possible that it might increase the level of design freedom and deposition rates for the user. It may even be more economical and material-efficient in comparison with powder systems.
Featured image courtesy of GEFERTEC.