Ultimaker, Utrecht, the Netherlands, a manufacturer of Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) Material Extrusion (MEX) machines, has announced its Metal Expansion Kit which aims to make metal Additive Manufacturing more accessible and affordable. Users of the new kit will be able to produce components capable of high mechanical stress and thermal resistance, an achievement that would be impossible even with high-performance thermoplastics, states the company.
The Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit has been developed to remove existing process bottlenecks and limitations by providing users with dedicated items, software features and knowledge to maximise process efficiency and further expand Ultimaker Additive Manufacturing machine capabilities beyond thermoplastics.
The kit includes materials that are automatically recognised by the machine’s NFC sensor and enables efficient switching between processing plastic and metal. The technology is powered by Ultimaker Cura, the company’s slicing software, and is compatible with the Ultimaker S5 machine.
“The Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit is especially suitable for printing non-off-the-shelf parts such as tools, jigs and fixtures, replacement parts, functional prototypes and auxiliary components,” stated Andrea Gasperini, Product Manager at Ultimaker. “The Kit provides access to a complete and validated 3D printing workflow on an open platform that offers competitive quality and lead times normally only accessible with full in-house metal Fused Filament Fabrication (MFFF) by solutions at a much higher total cost of ownership.”
“Thanks to the low total cost of ownership and savings up to 90% over small series of not-standard auxiliary components and tools, our early adopters are already realising return-of-investment (ROI) in less than a year,” he added.
The new Kit offers a comprehensive solution for metal parts preparation on the Ultimaker platform and includes all required items from building to accessing post-processing services, including materials and a set of dedicated print cores to support both the metal filament (BASF’s Ultrafuse 17-4PH) and the Ultrafuse Support Layer, allowing full design freedom.
For the kit, Ultimaker developed a new Print Core DD 0.4, a highly wear-resistant core to build the abrasive support material. No permanent hardware modifications are needed as print cores and materials can be simply replaced like any other print core or filament.
The kit also includes access to exclusive Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy content, developed together with the team at BASF Forward AM, providing a centralised and up-to-date knowledge base to help users successfully process metal parts on the Ultimaker platform. Additionally, the kit offers access to the BASF Debinding and Sintering Order Management Portal, a network of debinding and sintering services for post-processing of the additively manufactured part into a finished metal part.
The launch of the Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit is accompanied by the release of a metal FFF tailored Ultimaker Cura 5.1 version that brings the extensive set of features needed to prepare metal parts on the Ultimaker Platform.
Firat Hizal, Head of Metal Systems at BASF Forward AM, commented, “This unique all-in-one bundle by Ultimaker unlocks the metal 3D printing on open desktop platforms like Ultimaker S5, makes MFFF more accessible and affordable. With all the necessary components and accessories in the kit, it facilitates for users switching between printing plastics and metal parts back-to-back, and helps them throughout the process step by step from a to z. We are happy to complement this kit with our Ultrafuse® filaments and to offer a simplified post-processing step at a competitive price through our Debinding & Sintering partners located in different regions.”
The Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit will be available in North America, China, the EU and UK in July 2022. Kit contents will vary by country; initially, the BASF Forward AM Ultrafuse Support Layer and Ultimaker Print Core DD 0.4 will only be available in the EU and UK.