The ExOne Company (Nasdaq: XONE), today announced a new clean-burning metal binder, CleanFuse, that will enable future binder jet 3D printing of premium metals such as aluminum and titanium, which are sensitive to carbon residue left behind by other binding agents during sintering. The patent-pending formula will be available in the first quarter of 2020.
While ExOne systems already binder jet more than six qualified metals, including the popular stainless steels 316L, 304L and 17-4PH, a clean-burning binder is a key step in the development of binder jet 3D printing for some other high-demand metals, as well as some ceramics.
“CleanFuse is an important advancement for the field of binder jet 3D printing,” said John Hartner, ExOne CEO. “In addition to enabling the future binder jet 3D printing of aluminum and titanium, CleanFuse will also be important for 3D printing some beta materials now moving through our strict qualification process, such as Inconel 718 and 625.”
Preserving Metal Performance in 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.
When binders don’t burn off cleanly during sintering, however, carbon residue can alter the chemistry and fundamental performance of some sensitive metals. Consequently, a benefit of 3D printing metals with CleanFuse is preserving consistent part performance, including a part’s ability to be welded. This is critical for aerospace, automotive or defense applications, where parts are often integrated or assembled into a final product.
New Fuse Line of Binders
CleanFuse will be part of the newly branded ExOne Fuse line of binders – a change that reflects the growing importance of ExOne’s binder chemistries in delivering exceptional 3D printed cores, molds, tooling, and final end-use parts.
ExOne’s family of Fuse binders for metal and ceramic 3D printers now includes:
- CleanFuse – A premium, clean-burning binder that leaves behind no carbon residue and works well with metallic materials negatively affected by carbon, such as aluminum and titanium
- AquaFuse – A water-based binder that works well with a variety of metallic materials
- FluidFuse – A versatile solvent-based binder with low viscosity that works well with a variety of metallic and non-metallic materials, including ceramics
- PhenolFuse – A phenolic binder best suited for printing high-temperature materials, including non-metallics such as carbon, tungsten carbide (WC), silicon carbide (SiC), and other ceramics
ExOne is a global provider of 3D printing machines and 3D printed and other 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.