NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa.—The ExOne Company will offer a controlled-atmosphere model of its X1 160Pro™ extra-large production metal printer in the second half of 2022, the company said in a release.
The X1 160Pro, with a build box of 800 by 500 by 400 mm, or 160 liters, is ExOne’s 10th and largest production-ready metal binder jetting system to date. The new model is shipping from the company’s European headquarters and production facility in Gersthofen, Germany, the company said.
A controlled atmosphere is essential for 3D printing of reactive fine metal powders, but it also offers other benefits, such as reduction of powder oxidation and enhanced powder dispensing and spreading through control of humidity. This update will reportedly smooth the way for high-volume production of aluminum, titanium, copper, and several other materials using binder jet 3D printing technology.
ExOne has successfully been binder jetting reactive powders in controlled atmospheres, also sometimes referred to as inert or chemically inactive atmospheres, for years. ExOne was issued a patent on binder jet 3D printing in a controlled atmosphere (U.S. Patent No. 10,850,493) on Dec. 1, 2020, the company said.
ExOne’s controlled-atmosphere X1 160Pro can be used with nitrogen or argon and will be paired with accessories and ancillary equipment that are also equipped with inert atmosphere features. These include a curing oven, powder conditioning system, de-powdering station, and transport device for moving the build-box between process stages to ensure complete atmosphere control throughout the process, according to the release.
The company will continue to offer the original model of the X1 160Pro, a streamlined model for customers who do not need a controlled atmosphere system to process metal powders such as stainless steels. ExOne customers currently use the X1 25Pro® metal binder jet system for production without an inert feature. One customer is said to be operating six of the systems for serial production.
ExOne binder jet 3D printing technology is reported to be capable of processing 23 metal, ceramic, and composite materials, including a dozen single-alloy metals, such as aluminum and titanium.