Tech Thursday

This week in tech:

A US company, Desktop Metal has developed a 3D printing system using a range of metals and alloys, that is faster and much cheaper than existing systems. It brings 3D metal printing into the office rather than the factory, and has reduced the cost by a factor of 20. This is the kind of leap into usefulness that often occurs with new technologies.

It seems like in this age of exploding smartphones, autonomous vehicles, and killer robots, we’ve come to ignore one of the hardest-hitting technologies of the 21st century – 3D printing. Traditionally, we’ve perceived 3D printing as an almost gimmicky, novel practice that thrives in highly funded and covert research labs. Throw in a tinge of realism and a collective effort by some incredibly innovative enterprises, and we now see affordable, effective 3D printers pervade the workspace of universities, edgy designers, and ambitious engineers.

The kicker, however, is that these groups work exclusively in ABS plastics, the cheap, banal, and ubiquitous 3D printing material. Feel free to think of such plastics as the engineering equivalent of black ink in your standard desktop printer. But, let’s face it – if you’re actively seeking to disrupt manufacturing and design as an underdog, you have to use metal. So, while NASA, Apple, and Boeing continue to trail blaze using laser-melted metal printing, the little guys can’t – until now. We now have a 3D metal printing process that’s faster, safer, and cheaper than its existing counterparts, and it’s going to flip traditional means on their heads. Maybe it’s finally time for a bunch of ambitious creators to start milling products in a garage and change the world – again.

Desktop Metal will transform metal printing from an extravagant, rigid platform into a reliable solution that’s 20 times cheaper and 100 times faster. We are currently at a vaguely defined periphery in the 3D printing space, mostly marked by our inability to make it a scalable process, and it looks like we just might have hit the tipping point. Moreover, Desktop Metal caters to two often dichotomous groups that rely on metal printing; they are offering a studio system built for rapid prototyping for engineering teams, and a production measure for large-scale manufacturing timelines.

More on this here


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