The ExOne Company (Nasdaq: XONE), the global leader in industrial sand and metal 3D printers using binder jetting technology, and ANSYS (Nasdaq: ANSS), the global leader in engineering simulation, have entered into a collaboration to develop software that predicts the sintering behavior of binder jetted metal parts.
A beta software release for 316L stainless steel is targeted for the first quarter of 2020, with modeling software for other materials expected to follow.
“The predictive software under development between ExOne and ANSYS will streamline the process of designing metal parts for binder jetting, which includes the essential final sintering step,” said John Hartner, ExOne CEO. “While ExOne customers successfully sinter parts today, the process often involves some trial and error with sacrificial parts. We are confident that new simulation software will greatly simplify this process and ease adoption of our sustainable manufacturing process.”
“Binder jetting is increasingly seen as a game-changing technology for enabling cheaper metal parts from additive manufacturing,” said Brent Stucker, Director of Additive Manufacturing, ANSYS. “Through our collaboration with ExOne, ANSYS is committed to providing simulation technologies to help additive manufacturing practitioners understand and control their processes and materials, increase understanding of the underlying physics driving the process, and ultimately lead to rapid certification and qualification of components made using additive manufacturing.”
Understanding Binder Jetting
Binder jetting is a mature 3D printing process that uses a digital file to quickly inkjet a binder into a bed of powder particles — metal, sand or ceramic — creating a solid part one layer at a time. When printing metals, the final part must be sintered in order to fuse the particles together into a solid object.
Compared to other manufacturing methods, binder jetting is a fast and low-waste method of making precision metal parts and products. What’s more, it offers new design freedoms not previously possible.
While sintering metal powders is a common manufacturing process, the design freedom now offered by 3D printing is creating new challenges in sintering green metal parts that deliver predictable dimensional tolerances and meet other requirements. The new software under development aims to better predict how parts will behave during sintering, so that adjustments can be made or automated to achieve desired results.
What’s more, the software will be used to refine ExOne’s patented process of 3D printing sintering setters in alumina, a fine ceramic material known for high heat resistance. Setters are used during sintering to support some geometric features during the sintering process.
ExOne is a global provider of 3D printing machines, 3D printed products, materials and services to industrial customers. ExOne’s business primarily consists of manufacturing and selling 3D printing machines and printing products to specification for its customers using its installed base of 3D printing machines. ExOne’s machines serve direct and indirect applications. Direct printing produces a component; indirect printing makes a tool to produce a component. ExOne offers pre-production collaboration and print products for customers through its network of ExOne Adoption Centers (“EACs”). ExOne also supplies the associated materials, including consumables and replacement parts, and other services, including training and technical support that is necessary for purchasers of its 3D printing machines to print products. The Company believes that its ability to print in a variety of industrial materials, as well as its industry-leading volumetric output (as measured by build box size and printing speed) uniquely position ExOne to serve the needs of industrial customers. Visit www.exone.com for more information.