Sharebot, an Italian-headquartered developer of desktop and professional grade 3D printers, showcased its latest system, the metalONE 3D printer at the Mecspe manufacturing trade show in Parma this week.
It is a relatively small company, but it has a wide range of products and a large global footprint. With the firm’s portfolio including just about every type of plastic 3D printing process, it was only a matter of time before Sharebot moved into metal.
The metalONE is a relatively small and comparatively inexpensive selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printer. Supporting the assertion of its compact size, the metalONE has a footprint measuring 740 x 630 x 1000 mm, and weighs 150 kg. It has a print area measuring 65 x 65 x 100 mm, and it is therefore ideal for conducting material tests.
While this build volume may not be huge, Sharebot CEO Arturo Donghi told engineering.com that it’s the perfect size for universities and research and development labs to test new materials. “It’s completely open. A user can modify all of the parameters of the process in order to test their material or other R&D needs,” Donghi said.
The openness of the system is fairly unique in the world of metal 3D printing, with most manufacturers maintaining the process controls in a figurative black box locked away from the user. However, in order to understand how a newly developed material behaves during the printing procedure and what the optimal settings are, it’s necessary to access these controls.
The metalONE is equipped with a 1070nm 200W laser and a nitrogen generator, with three filters for creating an inert atmosphere free of metal particles. Other features include a 12-inch touchscreen, an integrated webcam and a LAN connection for remote printing.
Donghi explained that the new SLM system grew out of the company’s efforts in selective laser sintering (SLS) that began four years ago. “After we sold more than 50 SLS printers around the world, we started research into a new 3D printer that uses metal powder a year ago,” Donghi said.
The product fits in well alongside Sharebot’s numerous other systems, which include fused deposition modeling (FDM), stereolithography and digital light projection 3D printers in a range of small to large sizes. The company’s goal with this portfolio, according to Donghi, is to supply small- and medium-sized businesses.
Sharebot is currently offering the metalONE as a beta system to initial customers, who Donghi hopes will develop new materials for the technology. So far, the machine can print with 316L stainless steel, but metals like cobalt-chrome and aluminum are on the horizon.
Beta customers should receive their systems between June and July, with a full release expected in time for the formnext trade show this November.
This places the metalONE in the same price category as other entry-level metal 3D printers, like Xact Metal’s XM200 and the ORLAS Creator from OR Laser,both of which perform SLM for roughly $100,000 ($120,000 and $82,000, respectively).
Sharebot tells us that they expect to have the machine on the market for sale to the public before the end of the year, at a price less than €100K (US$113K). At this price level, it would place the MetalONE among the lowest-priced powder bed/laser options on the market.