PDF Concept: 20171113-infinity-electrostatics-3d-development
PDF Design Flow: 20171111-infinity-electrostatics-3d-design-flow
Infinity Electrostatics has developed a methodology to reduce metal 3D printer prototyping to market.
Retrofitting Standard Laser Engravers and Cutters with Metal Powder Additive Printing Capabilities:
Instead of the legacy start-up mode which requires investor acquisition, product development, and lengthy time-to-market, provide licensing for existing laser engraver system and retrofit to 3D. The system can be as simple as a desktop laser engraver, but can use a large format 4 ft x 8 ft build volumes, especially with a fiber laser system. Three components needed for upgrade:
– Software to control z axis for bed height
– Powder distribution system
– Sintering or curing oven
1. Laser Engraver: Use existing, well proven machine. Can be a CO2 or fiber laser format.
2. Powder Management: Proprietary trade secret.
3. Sintering Curing Oven: Use existing machine.
Business Model: License the conversion technology, and focus on new innovation. Low prototype costs don’t require outside investment.
Traditional 3D system development starts with a good idea, and innovation to improve the status quo. Typically, that development gets bogged down basic infrastructure impediments, which distracts from the real innovation. If outside funding is secured, IP takes more than two years to secure from the patent office, while original management may change hands with the desires of venture capital. A fast prototyping method would be to use existing technologies, and combine those technologies with fast-track software development. Instead of reinventing machine infrastructure, use what works, and spend time on the innovation. While IP is important to venture capitalists, it is the leading factor of distractions, and off-tracking for development. Fast prototyping may change technology every 12-18 months, which leaves most IP in legacy mode. The patent system was designed for legacy ideas 100 years ago, not for the fast-paced change of innovation today. Design for the market, not for the venture capital acquisition. Ultimately, the market decides which product is successful.
History of Metal Powder for Industrial Parts: PM (Powder Metallurgy) has been around since the Egyptians and Incas. During World War II, it expanded mainly in the automotive parts space. Ferrous metallurgy (iron based alloys), and non ferrous(other metals). Cold casting is when resin is mixed with powder. The basic production is powder manufacture, mixing powder particles, compacting (green compact or briquette), and sintering (heat treating in an oven to make one solid object by way of solid or liquid phase).
Matterfab has already demonstrated you can melt metal powder with the most basic laser engravers. In 2014 raised over $15 million, lost most of its founders, now in stealth mode. https: //3dprint.com/9592/matterfab-reveals-their- affordable-metal-3d-printer-an-order-of- magnitude-cheaper/
GE Additive: Recently acquiring Concept Laser in Germany, GE wants to get into the 3D metal printing space for the aerospace industry with one meter cube build volume.
Desktop Metal Founded in 2013, updated with venture capital infusion in 2017: MIT private company that has passed more than $115 million in investment, and $1 billion in valuation, has a nanoparticle powder and binder technology that is 100 times faster than conventional laser based additive 3D systems.
Summary: The 3D printer space is attractive for new parts manufacturing and for venture capital. Groups who are first to the market, gain market-share. On-demand product development gets sales, from a highly sought after product. The most desired innovation is powder management, speed of print, and build volume size.