Our Additive Manufacturing Technologies

Explore our diverse portfolio of cutting-edge metal additive manufacturing (AM) technologies, designed to cater to a wide range of industrial applications. Our offerings include Vat Polymerisation with Incus, Powder Bed Fusion with Colibrium Additive, Directed Energy Deposition with MX3D (WAAM) and Meltio (LMD), and Binder Jetting. Each technology provides unique benefits, from exceptional precision and versatility in material choice to enhanced scalability and production speed, enabling you to optimise your manufacturing capabilities efficiently.

What is Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)?

Additive manufacturing, also commonly referred to as 3D printing, is a process defined by the ISO/ASTM 52900 terminology standard as the process of joining materials to make parts from 3D model data. This technology involves building up layers of material, as opposed to subtractive and formative manufacturing methods. Other terms for additive manufacturing include 3D printing, additive fabrication, direct digital manufacturing, freeform fabrication, solid freeform fabrication, rapid manufacturing, and rapid prototyping.

Additive manufacturing makes use of data from computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, in precise geometric shapes. As its name implies, additive manufacturing adds material to create an object. By contrast, when you create an object by traditional means, it is often necessary to remove material through milling, machining, carving, shaping or other means.

Additive manufacturing has a wide range of applications, including the production of models, prototypes, patterns, tooling, and even final parts for use in industries such as consumer, industrial, medical, and military. It can be used to improve product development by reducing time to market, improving product quality, and reducing costs. It can also be used as a visualization tool to gain early feedback and reduce the likelihood of delivering a flawed product. In addition, companies can benefit from the ability to produce parts on-demand and reduce inventory.

As additive manufacturing continues to evolve with the introduction of new machines, materials, and applications, it has the potential to have a significant impact on a growing number of industries and geographic regions. It is an exciting technology with endless possibilities for improving efficiency and driving innovation.

Material Extrusion

Courtesy of Wohlers Associates

Material Extrusion is a 3D printing process in which material is selectively dispensed through a nozzle or orifice to create a three-dimensional object. This is done by depositing layers of material, through the heated extruder nozzle and either lowering the build platform or raising the extruder head. The part’s shape is determined by movements of the extruder and platform using G-code which is a pre-loaded file created by a software called a “slicer.”

There are various materials that can be used in Material Extrusion, including thermoplastics in filament form (e.g. ABS, nylon, PEEK, PLA, etc.), composite and filled materials such as carbon-filled and glass-filled filaments, and even metal filled filaments. The process may require the use of sacrificial support material for overhanging features. Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) for metal components is shown in the video from Xerion below:

VAT Polymerization

Incus 3D printers leverage the innovative Lithography-based Metal Manufacturing (LMM) technique, which builds parts using photopolymerization in a layer-by-layer process. Unlike conventional stereolithography, the feedstock contains metal particles dispersed in an organic binder. This unique blend forms the foundation for the LMM process.

At room temperature, the feedstock is solid, but it liquefies when heated, allowing a heated blade to coat thin layers onto the building platform. Each layer is selectively exposed to light, triggering photopolymerization. This process repeats until the part is complete. The printer’s active cooling solidifies the unused feedstock, encapsulating the green parts and eliminating the need for support structures.

After printing, the green parts are easily released through de-caking, and the unused material can be recycled. The green parts undergo debinding and sintering, resulting in dense metallic parts. LMM’s unique properties allow for printing complex geometries without supports, minimizing waste and enabling the use of a variety of metals, including stainless steel, titanium, and copper.

Courtesy of Incus 3D

Powder Bed Fusion

Courtesy of Wohlers Associates

Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) is a 3D printing process that selectively melts regions of a powder bed using thermal energy from a laser or electron beam. The areas that the beam contacts become solid as the material cools and adheres to the previous layer. Once a layer has been fused, a new layer of powder is added.

PBF can use a wide range of polymers or metals, and typically, the polymers used are semi-crystalline thermoplastics. For polymers, the unfused powder surrounding the part serves as a support material, but for metal PBF, support structures are required to anchor parts and features to the build plate. PBF can lead to thermal stress and heat treatment is typically required for metal parts. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Selective Laser Melting (SLM) are 2 different types of Laser Powder Bed Fusion technologies. One is commonly used for plastics and the other for metals. Other names for SLM include: Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), and Direct Metal Printing (DMP). 

Directed Energy Deposition

Directed Energy Deposition (DED) is a metal additive manufacturing process that uses focused thermal energy to fuse materials by melting them as they are being deposited. DED uses feedstock in the form of a metal powder or wire, which is delivered through a nozzle mounted on a multi-axis arm. It is sometimes combined with computer numerical control (CNC) milling to make hybrid parts. The process produces parts that are close to their final shape, but usually require additional machining to achieve the required tolerances.

DED has unique capabilities, such as the ability to deposit multiple materials simultaneously. It can also be used to repair damaged parts by depositing material directly onto them. Meltio uses a DED process called wire-laser metal deposition (W-LMD). MX3D uses a DED process called Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM). Other processes include Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) and Cold Spray Additive Manufacturing (CSAM). The videos by both companies below explain more about the different DED processes. 

Multitrade 3D Systems supplies the Directed Energy Deposition systems from Meltio in the form of the Meltio M600, and Meltio Engine for Robots or CNC machines. We also provide the M1 Metal AM systems from MX3D. 

Courtesy of Wohlers Associates

Binder Jetting

Courtesy of Wohlers Associates

Binder Jetting (BJT) is a 3D printing process that joins powder materials by selectively depositing a liquid bonding agent. The process begins with a layer of powder, which can be made of a polymer, metal, ceramic, or sand. The print head releases droplets of the binding agent on the powder material in a pre-determined pattern. After one layer is complete, the build platform moves downward and a new layer of powder is added.

The parts created using BJT typically require post-processing to improve their mechanical properties, this can include applying an additional adhesive or heating the part in an oven or furnace to sinter the particles. The metal Binder Jetting technology from Colibrium Additive is explained in greater detail in the following video. 

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