ProX DMP 300
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on May 05, 2016 |
3D Systems’ ProX 300 is a metal 3D printer for batch production.

The ProX line of metal 3D printers from 3D Systems is the result of the company’s purchase of French direct metal laser sintering system manufacturer Phenix Systems in 2013. Since the acquisition, the company has been rolling out ProX machines of varying sizes that are marketed towards various industries. The ProX 300 is the second largest in 3D Systems’ ProX line of direct metal printing (DMP) systems. Falling between the ProX 200 and ProX 320, the ProX DMP 300 has a price and size that also falls between those two systems.

The ProX 300 is 3D Systems’ larger-sized metal 3D printer. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)
The ProX 300 is 3D Systems’ larger-sized metal 3D printer. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)
Designed for manufacturing larger-sized, fully dense metal and ceramic components, the ProX 300 has a build volume of 250 x 250 x 330 mm (9.84 x 9.84 x 12.99 in). It features automated material loading and material recycling and is capable of handling stainless steel, tool steel, precious metals, alumina, super alloys and nonferrous alloys. 3D Systems claims a 3D-printing accuracy associated with fine-machining tolerances (using the EN ISO 2768 standard as a benchmarker) and repeatability of 20 microns on the X-, Y- and Z-axes.

How the ProX 300 Works

DMP is 3D Systems’ brand of metal powder bed fusion. Within a tightly controlled chamber filled with inert nitrogen or argon gas, a 500-W, 1,070-nm fiber laser is fired at a galvanometer mirror system, which bounces the light onto a bed of atomized metal powder. The heat from the laser melts the metal particles to the point that they fuse together and cool into a solid state. Once a layer has been sintered, a roller evenly distributes a new layer of powder onto the build plate, and the process is repeated until the part is complete.

The ProX 300 performing a print task. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)
The ProX 300 performing a print task. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)
The use of a laser, as opposed to an electron beam, allows for details as fine as 20 microns on the Z-axis and 100 microns on the X- and Y-axes. As a result, prints made from the ProX300 may require much less post-processing than electron beam melting (EBM) systems, such as Arcam’s products, and will also have a better surface. However, as is the case with all powder bed fusion machines, parts may require support structures and anchors during the printing process. Prints made with a powder bed system will also suffer from greater residual stress and distortion than EBM parts, and the process is somewhat slower than EBM.

The advantages of a powder bed system, however, are numerous, in that intricate metal geometries can be created so as to reduce the weight of the overall object, while also maintaining structural integrity. It may also be possible to reduce the part count of a given assembly by combining multiple components into a single 3D-printed item. Direct metal 3D printing can additionally be used to 3D print custom tooling and molds on demand, including conformal tooling, tooling inserts and blow molds. Due to the larger build volume, automated material loading and automated material recycling of the system, the ProX 300 is suitable for prototyping or batch manufacturing custom dental prostheses, aerospace components, auto parts, orthopedic implants and more.

The ProX 300 in Action

Turbo car auto shop English Racing spent two years attempting to find a method for producing a new, uniquely designed pulley for reducing the oil pressure on a Mitsubishi Evorace car. The problem wasn’t the design of the large-diameter pulley itself, but how to get it manufactured. Typically, such metal parts would require tooling to make a mold with which to cast the pulley, which requires a great deal of upfront capital. The shape of the part was too complex for the team to achieve with a lathe or a mill as well. Upon discovering a metal 3D-printing service bureau, Metal Technology (MTI), the English Racing team learned that they could 3D print the pulley instead.
English Racing was able to manufacture this pulley with the ProX 300. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)
English Racing was able to manufacture this pulley with the ProX 300. (Image courtesy of 3D Systems.)
The working prototype for the pulley was 3D printed on the ProX 300 in just five hours and installed on the Mitsubishi Evo in three days. As a result, the car’s engine was able to reduce its oil pressure, while allowing the driver to set speed records. At the Pikes Peak half-mile top-speed event, the English Racing’s Evo hit 196.6783 miles per hour and took home first place for fastest four-door vehicle.  

In this example, not only was English Racing able to obtain a part that would have been costprohibitive to obtain by traditional manufacturing processes in a short period of time, but the firm was also able to fabricate a part with features that would be unobtainable with standard casting. The racing shop has since turned to MTI to have 35 other components 3D printed for them on the ProX 300.

Manufacturer: 3D Systems

Model: ProX 300

Material: Cobalt-Chrome (CoCr), Stainless Steel 17-4 PH, Maraging Steel, Aluminum Alloy AlSi12

Build Envelope: 250 x 250 x 330 mm (9.84 x 9.84 x 12.99 in)

Layer Thickness: 20 microns

Printer Dimensions: 2400 x 2200 x 2400 mm (95x 87x 95 in)

Printer Weight: 5,000 kg (11,000 lbs)

Recommended Uses: Prototyping and short-run manufacturing of metal parts for aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries.

Machine Price: $684,300

Who Should Use the ProX300:

A largerbuild volume and automated material handling make the ProX 300 ideal for large or growing businesses looking to 3D print production parts for such industries as the medical, dental, aerospace and automotive fields.

Why You Wouldn't Use the ProX 300:

Given the size and cost of the machine, small businesses, research institutes and dental labs might look towards the smaller systems in the ProX line, such as the ProX 100, ProX 100 Dental, ProX 200 and ProX 200 Dental. Larger operations looking to 3D print even bigger parts with materials such as titanium and nickel alloys might consider the ProX 320.

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