The Top 10 Metal 3D Printer Startups Changing The Game

metal 3d printer

2018 is the year metal 3D printing exploded. Once a fringe technology, metal 3D printing is becoming cheap and effective enough to rival other manufacturing techniques in the short-run production of metal parts. This has wide-ranging effects in areas such as classic car parts which are no longer in production, aerospace, space, 3D printed jewelry, and even in the creation of 3D printed guns.

But how will metal 3D printing change the world for the average person?

Metal 3D Printing & Metal 3D Printers: Changing Manufacturing

There are a number of metal 3D printing technologies which have been around for many years. These include perhaps the most notable, Direct Metal Laser Sintering, or DMLS. This is similar to Selective Laser Sintering in terms of process, though DMLS involves 3D printing metals such as stainless steel and cobalt-chrome, whereas SLS uses plastics such as Nylon.

Other metal 3D printing technologies such as Electron Beam Melting, Binder Jetting, and Directed Energy Deposition are also used however.

These technologies are helping improve our daily lives in a variety of ways. Firstly, custom metal parts on rockets and planes are an improvement on typically manufactured parts as they can be printed lighter and stronger. This reduction of weight is critical for cutting costs in an industry where removing one olive from each salad served to passengers can save an airline $100,000 per year.

Therefore, we listed 10 metal 3D printer startups and companies who are changing metal 3D printing.

1 – Concept Laser

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: DMLS.
  • Company based: Germany.
  • Notable metal 3D printer: Concept Laser X Line 2000R

Concept Laser are a German metal 3D printer manufacturer founded back in 2000 by Frank Herzog. Since then, GE acquired 75% of Concept Laser in December 2016 and the company now operates under the GE Additive umbrella. Concept Laser focus on creating metal 3D printers which utilize Direct Metal Laser Sintering  technologies, a process similar to Selective Laser Sintering.

The German metal 3D printer company currently sell six printers, including the very notable X Line 2000R machine. This huge metal 3D printer can print structures up to a maximum size of 800 x 400 x 500 mm, and is claimed to be the largest metal 3D printer in the world!

metal 3d printer concept laser x line 2000r
Concept Laser’s X Line 2000R is the metal 3D printer with the largest build volume in the world.

2 – Arcam

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: EBM
  • Company based: Sweden.
  • Notable metal 3D printers: Arcam A2X.

Arcam are a Swedish metal 3D printer manufacturer, who like Concept Laser were acquired by GE and reside under the GE Additive umbrella. Arcam was founded in 1997 and has since expanded to have offices in the United States, Italy, China, and the UK.

Unlike its competitors, Arcam uses Electron Beam Melting (EBM), a 3D printing technology which uses an electron beam rather than a laser to melt metals. Arcam is currently the only metal 3D printer manufacturer to commercialize this technology and is the only company selling these 3D printers.

metal 3d printer arcam a2x
Arcam metal 3D printers are the only printers to utilize Electron Beam Melting.

3 – Xact Metal

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: DMLS.
  • Company based: USA.
  • Notable metal 3D printers: XM200 & XM300.

Xact Metal is an American 3D printer startup which operates out of Penn State University’s Innovation Park. Founded by Matt Woods, Xact Metal sells metal 3D printer machines which utilize powder bed fusion technologies to create strong metal parts.

Focused on enabling manufacturers to 3D print metal at the lowest possible prices, Xact Metal has so far released three metal 3D printers. These include the XM200C, XM200S, and XM300C. These range in price from the cheapest XM200C retailing at $80,000, to the XM300C ranging from $175,000 to $275,000 depending on the add-ons. The printers can print materials including stainless steel, cobalt-chrome, and even bronze!

metal 3d printer xact metal xm200
Xact Metal are aiming to revolutionize low cost metal 3D printing.

4 – Sciaky

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: DED.
  • Company based: USA.
  • Notable metal 3D printer: EBAM 300.

When you think about metal 3D printing, you undoubtedly consider it a new, modern technology. Sciaky however have been around for a very long time prior to 3D printing, having been established in 1939 (just before the start of World War 2!). Since then, Sciaky have optimized Directed Energy Deposition technologies to release their five metal 3D printers they currently sell.

These metal 3D printers aren’t however desktop machines you can just pick up and carry around. These are industrial 3D printers, room-sized behemoths that require warehouses to house them. Most notably, Sciaky’s EBAM 300 metal 3D printer has chamber dimensions of 300″ x 108″ x 132″, which is absolutely huge.

metal 3d printer sciaky ebam 300
Sciaky metal 3D printer systems are extraordinary feats of engineering, encompassing entire rooms.

5 – ExOne

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: Binder Jetting.
  • Company based: Germany.
  • Notable metal 3D printer: ExOne M-Flex.

ExOne are a German metal 3D printer manufacturer founded in 2005 as a spin-off company of Extrude Hone Corporation. The original company has used metal 3D printing since 1996, and sand 3D printing since 1999 however.

ExOne use Binder Jetting technologies which makes them stand out as this is a very rarely used technology. Using this technology, ExOne currently sell six metal 3D printers ranging from their Exerial printer to their S-Print and M-Print series of printers.

metal 3d printer exone m-print
ExOne use Binder Jetting technologies to 3D print metal parts cheaply.

6 – Desktop Metal

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: Bound Metal Deposition.
  • Company based: USA.
  • Notable metal 3D printers: Studio and Production System.

Desktop Metal are an American startup which has raised over $277M in investment so far, from companies including Google, BMW, Ford, GE, and more. Since being founded back in 2015 by CEO Ric Fulop, Desktop Metal has expanded to hire over 160 people.

Their metal 3D printing technology, Bound Metal Deposition, is very similar to Fused Deposition Modeling. Desktop Metal have utilized this technology in their two metal 3D printer machines, the Studio and Production Systems. The first machines are being shipped at the moment to a variety of customers who paid around $120,000 for each Studio System, and $320,000 for a Prodution System.

desktop metal 3d printer production system
Desktop Metal are the most talked about metal 3D printer company, having received over a quarter of a billion dollars in investment.

7 – Markforged

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: ADAM.
  • Company based: USA.
  • Notable metal 3D printer: Metal X.

Markforged have grown to become a huge player in the 3D printing industry very quickly due to their competitive advantage: carbon fiber printing. This has allowed the American metal 3D printer manufacturer, started up by Greg Mark in February 2013, to offer parts up to 23x stronger than typical FDM parts. This is due to carbon fiber being interwoven within the PLA or ABS extruded when printing.

Since conquering the FDM 3D printer market, Markforged have set their sights on releasing their first metal 3D printer. This impressive machine, the Markforged Metal X, uses their patented ADAM (Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing) technologies to create metal parts at a very low cost. The Metal X is also far cheaper than most industrial metal 3D printer machines, retailing at $100,000.

metal 3d printer markforged metal x
Markforged are a pioneer in the lower-priced metal 3D printer category. The Metal X is comparatively very cheap at $100,000.

8 – XJet

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: NanoParticle Jetting.
  • Company based: Israel.
  • Notable metal 3D printer: Carmel 1400.

XJet are an Israeli metal 3D printer manufacturer who use their patented NanoParticle Jetting technology in their two metal 3D printing systems. The technology has been carefully cultivated since XJet was founded in 2005, and is now poised to offer low cost metal 3D printing to save companies money.

XJet’s NanoParticle Jetting technology isn’t too dissimilar from Binder Jetting that ExOne use. Both involve particles being jetted onto a build tray. As a result, XJet have released two metal 3D printer systems, the Carmel 700 and Carmel 1400. Overall, XJet are a very innovative manufacturer who are making much noise in metal 3D printing.

metal 3d printer xjet carmel 700
XJet metal 3D printers use NanoParticle Jetting to create accurate metal parts.

9 – Vader Systems

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: Liquid Metal Printing.
  • Company based: USA.
  • Notable metal 3D printer: Polaris.

Vader Systems are a very interesting company. Formed of a father-son team focused on delivering metal 3D printing at the highest quality, Vader Systems developed their Liquid Metal 3D printing and Magnet-o-Jet technologies within their metal 3D printers. This involves propelling liquid metal from a chamber at scorching temperatures of 1200°C to create parts. The process uses print nozzles similar to a two-dimensional inkjet printer, drawing some parallels.

Vader Systems have so far released their Polaris system, Magnet-o-Jet subsystem, and their Ares system. Each designed to specialize in different tasks, Vader Systems have a versatile and innovative range of metal 3D printer systems. Definitely one to watch for the next few years.

metal 3d printer vader systems
Vader Systems use their Liquid Metal Printing technologies in an innovative metal 3D printing process.

10 – 3D Systems

  • Metal 3D Printing Technology: Direct Metal Printing.
  • Company based: USA.
  • Notable metal 3D printer: ProX DMP.

The original 3D printer company, 3D Systems launched their first printer based on stereolithography back in the late 1980s. Now 30 years later and still going strong, 3D Systems entered the metal 3D printer market in 2013. With $600M in annual revenue and thousands of staff, 3D Systems control the Direct Metal Printing market (a process which is similar to Direct Metal Laser Sintering).

Despite being a giant in the 3D printing industry, 3D Systems’ venture into the metal 3D printer market wasn’t as you’d expect. Rather than develop their own metal 3D printer systems, they acquired French company Phenix Systems who did produce metal printers. Using Phenix’s expertise, 3D Systems have since expanded their range and cemented themselves in the metal 3D printing market.

metal 3d printer 3d systems
3D Systems’ metal 3D printer family encompasses almost every specialized area of metal printing.

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