VIDEO: Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing to Print Metal Parts

The Metal X Industrial 3D Printer from Markforged creates parts with stainless steel.

Metal additive manufacturing is not a new technology, but modern advancements are opening new doors in how and what materials are being used for industrial 3D printing applications.

In the video above, we see how Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) can change the game with Markforged, a manufacturer of industrial 3D printers.

“Atomic diffusion additive manufacturing is basically the intersection between extrusion printing and metal injection molding,” said Jon Reilly, VP product at Markforged.

ADAM prints layer-by-layer, using metal powder contained in a plastic binder. The entire part is sintered at once to create exceptional strength.

In the video, Reilly shares with us a sprocket for a Ducati motorcycle that was printed using this process and sintered. The sprocket is made of 17-4 stainless steel and was printed in the company’s newest industrial 3D printer, The Metal X.

“There are some advantages to making parts this way that we think are going to change the industry,” Reilly said. “You can do captive infills. Just like when we print plastics, you can print a 50 percent triangular infill inside of your metal part, making it lighter and still strong. You’re using a lot less material when making it and so your per part cost comes down significantly.”

The extrusion-based technology fundamentally scales down cost, he explained, while providing greater variety in useable materials in metal alloys.

“At Markforged, we’re starting with stainless steels, but Inconel, titanium, tool steels, aluminum — any alloy you can imagine — you can print using this process. You can imagine eliminating the molding process completely and going straight from design to the part.”

Markforged is also working on composite technologies. The company has recently been using an Onyx composite, a nylon base with chopped carbon fiber added to it.

“We’re on our fourth generation print platform now for this stuff. What we do uniquely on the composite side of the business is, we’ll reinforce a part with a continuous strand of carbon fiber,” Reilly said. “If you need a strong, lightweight part straight off a composites printer, we can print that for you. Our application for the composite parts is primarily jigs, jaws, tools and fixtures in the manufacturing process.”

Reilly refers to manufacturing lines as the company’s “sweet spot,” where manufacturers need strong, lightweight parts produced quickly.

“If your line goes down and you’re waiting for a part to get CNC machined to fix it, you could be losing a lot of money. If you can print that part quickly and have it ready in a few hours, putting it back on the line and have it running, that changes the game.”

For more information, watch the video above and visit the Markforged website.

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.