Revolutionizing 3D Printing: Fluent Metal Introduces Powder- and Laser-Free Metal 3D Printing Technology

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Metal additive manufacturing brings its share of benefits to the industry, with several processes, all of which are suited for different needs and constraints, falling under its umbrella. While powder-based processes are mainly favored by professionals, others are gaining ground. This month, we’d like to introduce you to a new metal 3D printing technique straight from the USA. Developed by Fluent Metal, this technology deposits metal droplets from an extremely fine wire. It is said to be compatible with a very wide variety of metals, therefore offering greater flexibility. To find out more, we spoke to Peter Schmitt, founder and CEO.

3DN: Could you introduce yourself and your connection with additive manufacturing? How did the idea for Fluent Metal come about?

Hello, my name is Peter Schmitt and I’m the founder and CEO of Fluent Metal. My connection with additive manufacturing begins with an early interest in construction, building houses with my father and brother in Germany. Later, I took this desire to create physical structures and worked in sculpture, shaping larger-than-life mechanical installations.

This path led me to the MIT Media Lab, where I took a closer look at the tools we were using, including additive manufacturing. After holding various design director positions, including at Desktop Metal, I saw an opportunity to approach the change in metal additive manufacturing in a new way, overcoming the many challenges that limit the technology today. That’s why we founded Fluent Metal.

3DN: Could you tell us more about Fluent Metal’s technology?

Our technology generates liquid metal droplets directly from a fine wire, the width of a human hair. These droplets are then deposited on demand to build the designed part, similar to the inkjet approach. Our raw material is standard wire, which has several advantages: it’s easy to handle without worrying about health and safety issues, and enables more efficient production without waste. What’s more, we have broad compatibility with different metals, from copper and silver to stainless steel and even tungsten. If the metal is supplied in wire form, we can connect it to the equipment and start printing.

Thanks to our one-step process, we can manufacture finished or near-finished parts without additional or major post-processing, of course depending on the part requirements. Fluent Metal’s approach is designed to operate safely in a typical fabrication shop or even a prototyping shop, without the need for clean rooms or costly safety measures. Furthermore, material changeover is designed to be easy, like plug&play, reducing installation effort and enabling higher machine uptime, thus increasing overall production efficiency.

3DN: What are the main advantages of this process?

We take a different approach to most current metal additive manufacturing companies – our approach is more sustainable, it has a small footprint and can be operational in a normal workshop, and it can use a much wider range of metals. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Operational simplicity: With rapid installation and material changeover, using our technology requires low overheads and overall operating costs.
  • Wide range of materials: Our process can print on most metals and alloys, including precious metals and refractories. If the metal is supplied in wire form, we can connect it to the equipment and start printing.
  • One-step process: We can manufacture a finished part without additional or extensive post-processing.
  • Energy efficiency and zero material waste: We produce highly durable finished parts.
  • Highly scalable: Our system can adapt to demand, paving the way for high-volume production applications.

3DN: Which sectors is Fluent Metal targeting?

In the short term, our intention is to stimulate the imagination of designers, engineers and technologists to think about how rapid, on-demand production of customized metal parts could transform their capabilities. On a larger scale, we believe this approach can be applied to all industrial manufacturing, including defense, aerospace, mobility and even consumer goods such as jewelry.

3DN: Any last words for our readers?

Many metal fabrication processes already exist, but if you’re looking for metal parts, even if you just want to create a prototype for a commercial application, you need to turn to a specialist. Experimental or customized metal parts are extremely difficult to produce.

Fluent Metal enables the creation of new tools and metal parts in a way that has never been accessible to individuals. On a large scale, this is changing the nature of metal fabrication and could be a fundamental technology that opens up unforeseen possibilities. You can find out more about the company HERE.

What do you think of Fluent Metal and its 3D printing technology? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter here for the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

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