Desktop Metal, based in Boston, USA, has opened up pre-orders for its Studio System which uses inkjet-like technology, rather than laser-based techniques, to produce precision metal parts.
The system isn't cheap – it's $120,000 to buy outright or $4,000 a month for 36 months – but compared to other ways of producing metal parts, especially in small numbers, it could be a game-changer. Sure, there are traditional CNC machines but they still cost from thousands up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This fat gizmo is supposed to be a challenge to that.
The printer will be made available in mid-2018, at which point the company hopes to expand even further with a production version of the machine that offers 3D printing at 100 times the speed and a twentieth of the cost of current systems.It may be that this doesn't replace CNC, but rather traditional heavy manufacturing tooling:
One of the investors in the company, managing partner of BMW iVentures Uwe Higgen told The Register that the car manufacturer has warehouses full of tooling equipment for its different cars, each of which typically costs millions of dollars to create. It also takes months for those tools to be developed.Interesting that BMW is investing in this.