The ExOne Company, North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA, reports that it will offer a controlled atmosphere model of its X1 160Pro™ extra-large production metal Binder Jetting (BJT) Additive Manufacturing machine in the second half of 2022. The controlled atmosphere update will enable high-volume production of aluminium, titanium, copper, and several other materials using BJT.
The X1 160Pro features a build box of 800 x 500 x 400 mm (160 litres) and is the company’s tenth and largest production-ready metal BJT system to date. The company explains that a controlled atmosphere is essential for the Additive Manufacturing of reactive fine metal powders, but it also offers other benefits, such as reduction of powder oxidation and enhanced powder dispensing and spreading through control of humidity.
ExOne has successfully been Binder Jetting reactive powders in controlled atmospheres, also referred to as inert or chemically inactive, for some years. On December 1, 2020, ExOne was issued a patent on binder jet 3D printing in a controlled atmosphere.
The controlled-atmosphere X1 160Pro model can reportedly be used with nitrogen or argon and will be paired with accessories and ancillary equipment also equipped with inert atmosphere features. These include a curing oven, powder conditioning system, depowdering station, and transport device for moving the build-box between process stages to ensure complete atmosphere control throughout the process.
ExOne will continue to offer the original model of the X1 160Pro for customers who don’t require a controlled atmosphere system to process metal powders such as stainless steels. The company’s BJT AM technology is capable of processing twenty-three metal, ceramic, and composite materials, including a dozen single-alloy metals such as aluminium and titanium.
The current model is available to be shipped from ExOne’s European headquarters and production facility in Gersthofen, Germany.