As 3D metal printing gets more popular, there were bound to be more desktop devices on the market. While it may seem costly, Iro3d’s desktop metal printer looks to be a promising instalment. The Seattle-based company has unveiled their new $5,000 printer publicly earlier this week. Even though it’s still in the beta phase it is far cheaper than most alternatives available so far.
The printer uses a multi-step process requiring the production of a crucible from sand and metal powders. Users have to then process this crucible into the eventual product. The printer does away with a lot of the standard parts expected of additive manufacturing. It has no fans, heat beds, and hot ends for example. It boasts a 0.3mm layer resolution and has a 1mm pourer (its alternative for a hot end).
Currently, the printer is only available for purchase in the Seattle area. This may change within the future, depending on sales and popularity. There is, as of yet, no word on when the final version will be completed.
The Metal Printing Process
The printer does not create an object right away. As mentioned earlier, the process requires the creation of a crucible. The user then has to transfer this crucible into a kiln through an auger and what comes out is the final product.
In terms of structure it has two containers of sand. The use of sand is important since it acts as a support material. It also uses two granularities for metal: one fine for visible surfaces and another for interior fill. The company has stated that the powders cost about $5 per pound. It takes a few hours to print out the basic structure, before transferring it to the kiln. The object comes out a bit rough so you might have to finish it with a wire brush. All in all it can make a pretty sizeable object within 24 hours.
You can see the printer in action in the video below: