The ExOne Company, North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, has announced the launch of the ExOne Metal Designlab Additive Manufacturing machine and the X1F advanced furnace in an exclusive partnership with Rapidia, a Vancouver, Canada-based technology company. Deliveries of the new office-safe metal AM machine and furnace are expected to begin in Q2, 2021.
Rapidia’s two-step AM technology, developed over several years and first revealed in 2019, sees water-bound metal and ceramic parts go directly from the build stage into a furnace, without a debinding step. The process is made possible by HydroFuse, a water-based paste containing metal or ceramic powders, which does not require debinding before final sintering.
HydroFuse paste replaces 98% of the typical binder used in similar Material Extrusion (MEX) AM processes with water, which evaporates while printing. According to ExOne, the Metal Designlab can produce 100% solid metal of any thickness, delivering maximum-strength parts suitable for a wide variety of demanding pre-production and end-use applications.
Under terms of this strategic partnership, ExOne has right of first refusal for majority ownership of Rapidia, founded by Dan Gelbart, who will also become a technology advisor to ExOne. Gelbart is an electrical engineer who co-founded companies such as Creo, Inc, a laser technology company sold in 2005 to Kodak for $1 billion, and Kardium, a medical device company. He has 135 US patents for inventions ranging from package tracking technology to atrial fibrillation treatment. His popular YouTube series on prototyping is used for instruction by several universities.
“We are delighted to partner with the visionary Dan Gelbart and the Rapidia technology team to offer the new ExOne Metal Designlab and X1F furnace,” stated John Hartner, ExOne’s CEO. “This technology is a true time-saving innovation that complements ExOne’s portfolio. Now, researchers, educators, and industrial designers will be able to bypass days of waiting and produce high-quality parts without the limitations faced by parts that require traditional debinding.”
The ExOne and Rapidia teams are reported to be collaborating on system and process enhancements, with more innovations expected. Two materials are currently offered: 17-4PH and 316L stainless steels, with other metals and ceramics to follow soon.
“We set out to develop a simple, environmentally-friendly system that creates the toughest, most intricate parts overnight,” added Gelbart. “Today, we’re excited to leverage ExOne’s global marketing and sales team to help customers around the world enjoy the benefits of our revolutionary technology. I also expect a lot of innovation to come from combining the deep technical knowledge of both companies. Now, users can 3D print complex parts today without any thickness limitations for solid parts and produce high-strength parts overnight.”
The new X1F furnace, with around 10 litres of usable volume, will also be offered across ExOne’s Binder Jet lineup, where it is seen as a complement to the Innovent+ and InnoventPro 3L or 5L printers.