What's new
What's new

$600k, twelve 1000W lasers

What's the real cost savings here versus 12 machines with one laser each? Footprint? Levelling system? I suppose less shielding gas.
Speed? If you've got 12 lasers sintering at a time, you can build each layer faster?

Their website is an abomination, didn't stay around long enough to figure out if it was one machine using each of twelve lasers on twelve individual parts, or all the lasers working together on a single part.

But "parallel processing" is without a doubt a big step towards the additive future. Think of biological cellular processes - a lot of tiny elements building bone, skin, organs in coordination.

No reason a similar process can't be done for metals and plastics; huge numbers of "tiny factories" working together in churning out functional parts.
That does take 1st place for shittiest website.

It's 12 lasers in one sintering machine. They claim 20x faster than same machine with one laser.
The stuff looks cool ..
but it is not really any big innovation.

It´s somewhat like ganging up 4 spinning jennys as the catalans did here in Spain, after stealing the tech from england or scotland.
They used to work for the factory and copied the prints at night.
True story.

The SLM website youtube video states 21 hours to build an engine core --
this is very good, and I am sure it can be maybe 300% lighter and-or 200% stronger for the volumetric area.

-- and maybe 5x-10x faster than any other 3d metals printer.
Great. Hurrah.

But so what ?

A 600k machine costs about 150-200-300$ an hour to run with all the materials it needs, 250 kg mass in hoppers was mentioned.
If it can run un-attended, perfectly, it might make 365 parts/yr,
all for 600k/5 = 120k/yr in machine costs or about 3000$ per part plus consumables, operators, dpereciation, interest, secondary ops, finishing, qc, etc.
So every engine core costs about 4-5000$ as-is without liners, finishing, or anything.
Around 10x more expensive and slower than current practice.
Lighter, and stronger, but vastly more expensive.
No real mass-market use.

Vs 300$ per casting and 500$ for one with finished bores, typically done with diamond rigid hones that take 15 secs per cylinder and the tools last 300.000 cores per year.

Partly according to one of the big manufacturers I visited, making auto parts in qty, with 21 plants globally.
A finished typical basic engine is about 3000$ to an auto manufacturer, qty 300k /yr.
Thats an assembled engine in running condition with camshafts, and main shafts, valves, everything.

A 70k Haas is about 3k€ a month, and with operators tools and stuff the run-rate is about 40€/hr.
Give or take 10€/hr depending.

I don´t see any benefits, profits, or hoopla in the additive manufacturing froth.

It´s possible, even likely, imho, that additive manufacturing via multiple lasers will become commonplace.

But this will be with 50k machines that make multiple parts at once, maybe 3-10, perhaps using 10 lasers optically separated into 100+ streams to cut the processing time down to 3-6 hours for a similar engine core part.

The race is like disc drives 30 years ago.
Or RAM, or processors.
The current 3DP tech is almost useless, due to cost/part, but the cost is likely to drop 1000x fold within a few years, 5-8 years maybe.

I struggle to see any current 3D printer maker surviving the transformation.
Probably a few will, but it´s impossible to know which ones.

They need to gear up and plan for making the current 600k printers into 40k printers with 10x the capacity in terms of hexel resolution and sintering speed, within a few years.
The current makers like SLM are like the compaq PC of old, or the old IBM PC division, or old Cisco.
Excellent tech, for the time, but vastly over-engineered and expensive-to-make for the results.

I´m quite sure that cheap commodity laser sintering will appear in the near future 5 years.
But the price point will be 10x+ lower than now, and 2-3x+ lower within about 3 years.
I don´t see any benefits, profits, or hoopla in the additive manufacturing froth.

I do. In aerospace especially, the intricate combustion chamber elements and similar parts for jet engines are game changers. Also, what SpaceX and others are doing with high-efficiency rocket engines.

For IC engines, transmission casings, suspension parts - well, F1 if nothing else. Porsche, similar high-enders too. Not so much Kias, by the time the $$ make sense they may be out of the gas/diesel game anyway...
There are places where additive really opens up design freedom. Internal channels are the big one, so anything liquid cooled like an injection mold or a rocket engine or a crankcase can now be designed with fewer parts, fewer seals or fewer design constraints. It's the mythical trained metal boring termites that our college machine shop used to rag on engineers for requiring to make the things grad students sent down.

Also, nobody is laser sintering ignorant cast iron. How's the speed stack up to a $70k Haas in Inconel, assuming the Haas could make the part? That's the real question.
Haas would have no problem machining Inconel away fast enough to beat a 3D printer in most cases. The difference is, as you mentioned, in the design freedom, and whether that freedom provides a true performance increase worth the added cost of using AM.
Their website is an abomination, didn't stay around long enough to figure out if it was one machine using each of twelve lasers on twelve individual parts, or all the lasers working together on a single part.

"My experience" finally loaded.

It's 12 lasers in parallel on the same part/layer.

Big question is how much does it cost compared to 12 single-laser machines?
12 is nothing. These guys are building 3 d printers, for metal, with 150 lasers working at once. They are not selling the machines, instead they are making parts to order.


They just raised 355 million, this outfit may be on to something. I'll be paying attention!