Affordable 3D metal printing?
Back in 2013 we looked at the Solid Concepts gun that was 3D printed using the SLS process. That is very cool, but also a very expensive bit of kit. While it is not SLS, there is a new option that looks to bring 3D metal printing to a more affordable price point. The Mini Metal Maker extrudes a metallic clay while printing. After the print, the object is heated to temperatures between 600° and 900° C, causing the binding agent of the clay to melt away as the metal particles are sintered together. And it is going to do all this for around $2K.
The fly in the ointment, if there is one, is the resolution. In plastics, even the $349 PrintBot Simple can print at 100 microns, and the more expensive units get even finer. The Mini Metal Maker is still at 250 microns. That’s a big difference. For now. One would guess that fine detail will only improve as the process matures. You can read more about the Mini Metal Maker at their indiegogo campaign.