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  1. #1

    Question What do you think about Desktop Metal's 3D Metal Printers?

    Hello, everyone! I hope you're all doing well! I am a Ford engineer and Desktop Metal's printers started to pop up in my factory around a year ago. However, the first time I got to see them actually printing a practical part (it was a safety component for an F-150 pick-up truck) was this September. I was extremely impressed, to say the least. I've never been educated on this new tech and didn't really have the desire to research it myself over the years. I would really appreciate it if you could answer some of my questions about this company: 1) Seeing it work really overwhelmed me. It created a very complicated part within a day from start to finish. So it made me think ... We have a Production System printer and as far as I know, there is a bigger model for mass manufacturing coming in 1-2 years. How evolved do you think this technology is at this point and how big of a role in manufacturing it can play over this decade? Should I start to learn more things about it as an engineer? Where should I start? 2) I do a little bit of investing and this company seems really intriguing. Their machines appear high-quality, robust and extremely efficient at first glance. I know that Desktop Metal will go public in 2021. Do you think it could be a good long-term investment? Is it the best metal 3D printing company on the market right now in your opinion?Thanks, everyone, in advance for all your help! The 3D printing world is quite new to me. I'm an older guy and never thought I'd see something like this in my lifetime. Sincerely, Robert

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    personally I think desktop metals setup is a technology that's on it's way out.
    It's incredibly complicated: three phases - each one needs to be perfect for the final part to be viable. All three machines are prohibitively expensive and the parts aren't that great compared to other metal printing technologies.
    If the sintering forge is a few degrees off the part is ruined.
    If the washing machine doesn't get all the substrate - the part is ruined. If the printers cocks something up - yep, the part is ruined.

    The cost of the entire setup: printer, washer and forge is unrealistic.
    Also given the advances in direct metal powder manufacturing - where an sls machine now costs less than $100,000 (at least 50% less than the desktop metal setup) and can take up as little space as an office water cooler, while producing a final part that just needs basic poliching to finish - I don't think the whole 3 stage sintering has a lot of life left in it.
    https://www.google.com/search?client...&q=xact+xm200c

    Powder bed metal direct sintering is the way to go.

    If I were going to invest in a 3d printing company at the moment it would probably be Carbon.
    I don't like their company philiosophy, but there is no doubt that the guys in charge really know how to make money and can milk industry for every last cent.
    They've gone down the microsoft route, in that you cannot buy one of their printers you can only rent them.
    They also seem exceptional at acquiring government and business grants.
    So yeah at the moment Carbon are the company I would invest in.
    Resin printing is going nowhere anytime soon and Carbon seem to be the company that has managed to monetarise it better than anyone else.

    Desktop metal's system is just about at the end of it's lifespan. When it came out it was a cheaper alternative to direct metal sintering - now it's more expensive, less capable and considerably more complicated and likely to go wrong.

    The there are all the maintenance coats. The bastards charge you $10,000 if you move the forge as it's lined with a material that becomes amazingly brittle after the first firing. So that if you moive it, it needs to be relined - and for that they charge $10,000.

    So no, I would not invest in desktop metal.

    I'm surprised ford have - I guess their buyer got treated to some 'jollies' and had no clue as to how the rest of the metal printing industry was progressing.
    But it's now old, expensive tech.

  3. #3
    Thank you so much for your insight! I didn't expect to hear such a detailed answer. I really appreciate it. I'll need a few hours later in the evening to process everything you've just said but without a doubt, it's really useful. Have a great day, sir!

  4. #4
    Thank you again for your help. I have one more question if you don't mind and I'll really appreciate a little bit more of your time. Desktop Metal has Production System coming out next year for mass manufacturing (https://www.desktopmetal.com/products/production). What do you think about this product? Does it have all the same drawbacks as the systems you'd previously described or some of the cons could be overlooked, considering we have as much space as we need, the price isn't as big of an issue for big corporations and I haven't found any alternatives particularly designed for mass production that are on the market right now. I'm sorry if I'm asking silly questions, but this whole industry is quite new to me.

    Sincerely, Robert

  5. #5
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Ah - now that's a different kettle of fish entirely.

    Binder jetting is still very much a viable process and one that offers many of the advantages of sls.
    You still have the hassle of sintering and you still have the powder removal process - but as far as production goes, it's a lot better than the fdm process they currently have.

    If you read between the lines - there is still an awful lot of post processing going on, and it's defintiely not as straightforward and hands free as it seems to claim.
    But yeah I can see large corporations going for it. Compared to traditional manufacturing methods it's faster and offers complex parts that can be made as a single piece that would previously need to be several seperate parts stuck together.

    As a system sls will still produce better parts with a lot less post processing.
    But a large binder jet printer will produce a lot more objects a lot quicker.

    So with that in mind and your own points about space and cost not being an issue - yeah, that makes a lot of difference.

    And to be fair desktop metal are also a company that is good at monetarising the 3d printing process.

    I'm still not sure what happened to the law suit with markforge - but I guess in trumps america - law suits are probably seen as a positive thing. :-(

    So yeah, with that in mind - and with ford already an existing client - yep, it should be a decent investment.
    But throw some money Carbons way as well, as they cover the industrial non-metal side of things.

    Cheers for that info - you learn something every day :-)

  6. #6
    Thank you, sir! I couldn't help but smile while reading your replies. I'm happy that there are people who are kind enough to spare a few minutes and share their expertise with complete strangers on the internet.

  7. #7
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    Engineers,designers and manufacturers are used to access the metal and carbon fiber 3D printing which are make by Desktop metal.These are also good at monetarising the 3D printing process.

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