ExOne rolled out its largest metal binder jetting system and began collaborating with a materials supplier to further advance tungsten-based metal 3D printing. 

NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa.—A new metal 3D printer from ExOne is designed to build larger parts from six qualified metals—plus some ceramics—at production speeds. The X1 160PRO™ 3D Printer is reported to offer more than 2.5 times the build volume of competing systems, along with print speeds topping 10,000 cm3/hour, depending on print material.

The new system, introduced in November 2019 and scheduled to ship in late 2020, is the 10th and largest metal binder jet 3D printer from ExOne, which launched its first commercial metal binder jet system in 1998, the company said in a press release.

The X1 160PRO metal 3D printer offers build dimensions of 800 x 500 x 400mm, with 160 liters of total build volume. Its build volume is large enough to produce investment cast parts used in the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries, according to ExOne (https://www.exone.com/). The system also features Industry 4.0 cloud connectivity and process-linking capabilities enabled by Siemens MindSphere.

“We’re incredibly proud of what this model means for the future of metal 3D printing and sustainable production of large metal parts without design limitations,” said ExOne CEO John Hartner, in the release. “Our technology roadmap has been leading us to this machine for more than two decades. At the same time, the X1 160 PRO was also designed in response to growing demand from automotive, defense, and aerospace customers.”

The X1 160PRO uses ExOne’s exclusive Triple Advanced Compaction Technology (ACT) system to print qualified metals, including the popular stainless steels 316L, 304L, and 17-4PH, into dense and reliable final parts. ExOne said the Triple ACT system is critical to delivering consistent part density and repeatability across the entire build area when binder jet 3D printing.

Binder jetting is a method of 3D printing in which an inkjet prints a binding fluid onto a fine layer of powder, building a part, one layer at a time. ExOne’s Triple ACT is said to solve one of the biggest challenges of binder jetting metal powders: dispensing, spreading, and uniformly compacting ultra-fine powders with an average particle size, or D50, of 9 microns. Although the cohesiveness of these powders makes them prone to caking and difficult to dispense, ExOne’s technology overcomes this challenge, the company said.

The X1 160PRO joins ExOne’s growing family of metal 3D printers, which includes the Innovent+, an entry-level system used globally for research, design and small part production, and the X1 25PRO, a mid-size production 3D printer that is said to be large enough for most metal parts manufactured today. The X1 25PRO began shipping to customers late last year.

Shortly before introducing its latest printer, ExOne  announced it is collaborating with Global Tungsten & Powders (GTP), also of Pennsylvania, to advanced 3D printing of tungsten metals. The collaboration is focused on developing two metal-matrix composite materials. One is cemented carbide (WC-Co), a tough, hard material used in cutting tools and wear-resistant parts. The other is copper-tungsten (Cu-W), used in applications that require high heat resistance, high electrical and thermal conductivity, and low thermal expansion.

Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. Vice President Deborah West called binder jetting “the 3D printing method of choice for serial production of hard metal parts.”

“Traditionally, tungsten carbide powder is pressed into the desired shape and then sintered to give it strength and density. Instead of costly and timely mold construction, the parts now can be printed directly in the desired shape, still using sintering technology to achieve the final strength,” she said in a statement. “We are excited to work with ExOne in the development of cutting-edge technology for the additive manufacturing industry.”

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