Desktop Metal has announced an all-new 3D printer and platform, the Fiber series. This series is the first desktop printer to miniaturize automated fiber placement (AFP) technology, found in high-end carbon fiber production processes, and combine it with fused filament 3D printing. The resulting parts created using the patent pending technology are up to 60 times stiffer and 75 times stronger than standard ABS plastic parts.
“For the first time, Fiber printers combine the material properties of high-performance AFP continuous fiber materials with the affordability and speed of a desktop 3D printer,” - Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal
A New Feature-Rich Platform
Desktop Metal, also known for their metal printing Studio System+, wanted to be the first to bring this largely inaccessible AFP technology to a wider group of companies and engineers. Specifically they are looking to provide a better solution for manufacturers during early prototyping or when producing critical end-use parts that require high stiffness and fast lead times over machined counterparts.
Core features include:
- Ability to print industrial grade, chemical-resistant, flame-retardant and ESD-safe parts
- Smaller footprint and price point through the use of Micro Automated Fiber Placement (μAFP) technology
- Build parts with unidirectional μAFP tape, widely considered to be one of the highest performance structural materials available
- The option to print continuous fiber with chopped fiber filament or either independently
- Accessibility to all engineers with both entry-level settings and opt-in advanced controls
Key applications include:
- Jigs and fixtures
- End-use parts
The Fiber series contains multiple material heads for processing both of the following material types:
- Continuous Fiber Composite Tapes
These tapes are used in many applications that require a combination of process automation and high-performance, lightweight materials because they can deliver parts with high fiber loading and low porosity. The 3 mm wide tapes are heated and deposited by a compaction roller with closed-loop thermal controls, resulting in reinforcements that display less than 1% porosity.
- Chopped Fiber Filaments
A material type used during the fused filament fabrication (FFF) or fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing process to provide enhanced mechanical and thermal properties while improving dimensional stability. These materials have discontinuous fibers (typically less than 6 mm in length) added to the thermoplastic filament rather than continuous fiber stands. They offer good dimensional stability, up to 30% fiber volume fraction and improved mechanical properties when compared to standard thermoplastics.
A wide range of materials at launch ensures you will be able to start producing the models you need as soon as your printer is ready to run.
- Nylon 6 (PA6) Carbon Fiber (continuous tape or chopped filament)
- Nylon 6 (PA6) Fiberglass (continuous tape or chopped filament)
- PEEK Carbon Fiber (continuous tape or chopped filament)
- PEKK Carbon Fiber (continuous tape or chopped filament)
Only one μAFP head is necessary to print the full-range of available continuous fiber tapes. Separate filament printheads are needed to process PA6 material versus PEEK or PEKK high-temperature materials. To switch between the printheads, the Fiber printer uses a robotic tool changer architecture, which enables future expandability and can store up to four tools, including additional filament heads for different materials.
Two Printer Options
The two versions of the Fiber printer offers users exceptional part quality and a wide range of engineering-grade materials that can be processed at the user-friendly size of a desktop printer. These two printers are the same in size but vary when it comes to cost and materials.
Both Fiber machines are available via an all-inclusive hardware-as-a-service subscription so you can enjoy the latest technology at an affordable price, without risking technology obsolescence. Each subscription requires a minimum 3-year term. Subscriptions auto-renew at the end of the minimum term on an annual basis, but you can cancel any time after the minimum without additional cost.
Desktop Metal’s support program at launch ensures an extremely low-risk operation's investment as the Fiber package includes:
- Access to new releases and software updates
- Remote support including email, phone and chat for troubleshooting or diagnostics
- Hardware swap which includes a replacement printer or components as required
Shipping of the new Fiber printers is expected to begin in Spring 2020. Pre-orders are now available.
Want to discover what other printing technologies Desktop Metal is developing?
See how they are making the process of metal 3D printing more accessible and safer than ever before.