Interview with Dynamism and Desktop Metal on the Ultimaker S5 and DM Studio System

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Dynamism has been a retailer of 3D printing technology for over two decades, and the company always does well at keeping up with the latest, most talked-about 3D printers. Currently, one of its featured products is the Ultimaker S5, which was released last year and designed for industrial 3D printing. Another is the Desktop Metal Studio System, released in 2017 and designed for metal 3D printing in an office setting. Both systems exemplify two of the largest trends in 3D printing, more sophisticated desktop systems and binder jetting metals. Dynamism itself is at a crossroads as well. We’ve been talking to resellers around the world these past weeks to figure out what the 3D printing market is like for resellers today. What is a reseller to do? Do they move towards industrial or wait for the consumer market to grow? Dynamism gives us some interesting insight that points to them not only becoming more of business-focused firm but also looking at being more of an integrator.

Both the Desktop Metal and Ultimaker 3D printers have made a big impact on the 3D printing industry since their respective releases, and Dynamism is excited about their futures as well as its own. Recently both were showcased at CES, which wrapped up last week. We were able to talk with Dynamism CEO Douglas Krone about the Ultimaker S5 and its role in manufacturing.

Do you believe that the S5 will be used for manufacturing?  What is holding it back from manufacturing now? 

“On this point, I’d to point out that both the Ultimaker 3 and S5 are already widely used in manufacturing globally, for producing tools, jigs and fixtures.

To talk about end parts, are early use cases of customers printing end parts used in low volume products like machines or robots—grippers on robotics is a prime example. In these cases companies have looked at their BOMs (Bill of Materials) and found non-critical parts, often replacing metal with advanced 3D printed plastic.  This provides short terms savings, but an even larger long-term advantage: far more efficient spare part production, though the life cycle of the product, and beyond.  (Even after products are discontinued, companies must maintain a spare parts inventory—usually for years.)

I think that’s where Ultimaker’s Open Material strategy is a big win.  These machine/robot producers require specific materials from leading chemical companies (certification, procurement risks) not from 3DP producers themselves (with the resulting lock in). Having said this, Ultimaker is focused prototyping, tools, low volume production and spare parts made on location.”

Do you foresee people using Ultiwalls (clusters of desktop printers) to manufacture parts?  Will you need to automate more things on the printer or Ultiwall? Such as part removal? 

“The current S5, and what we expect to see next from Ultimaker (the next-generation of ‘concrete floor’ machines), can be deployed in wall-formations.  (And Cura’s CuraConnect supports that use.)  But space, health, and safety requirements differ so much per factory and country, it would not make sense for Ultimaker to do a standard ‘Ultiwall’ product.  You can expect 3D printing solutions providers like Dynamism to create these types of customized arrangements for larger customers.”

What are instances of Ultimaker adoption in the automotive industry?

“We see almost every automotive company, not just OEMs, but also in second, third and fourth tier now using Ultimaker. Uses are part development, tool design, and tool production. Ford and Volkswagen have especially impressive showcases.”

Are there any product announcements or other news from the show?

“The next news we expect from Ultimaker will be later this year.  Look for innovative accessories that will work with all existing Ultimaker S5s, and make a great 3D printer even better.  And of course Ultimaker is always iterating and improving Cura.”

To learn more about Desktop Metal’s Studio System, we spoke with Desktop Metal VP of Product Larry Lyons.

How well is the Desktop Metal Studio System doing?

“As our office-friendly systems are making their way to customers throughout the country, we recently announced the launch Studio System+ and Studio Fleet which together offer enhanced features for metal prototyping and low volume production. Engineers and designers who are looking to push the limits of metal 3D printing with small parts or parts with fine details can now achieve even higher-resolution, with a customizable system configuration for greater process efficiency and throughput right on the shop floor. The new Studio System+ retains all the key features of the original Studio System with advancements that allow customers to build to scale and offer high-resolution printing. Studio Fleet adds a custom-configurable, in-house metal 3D printing solution to support a variety of production scenarios and scales for a wide range of low- to mid-volume applications across industries. For the first time, on-demand metal 3D printing will be able to deliver accessible and scalable manufacturing that adapts to diverse business needs, part requirements, production volumes and cost constraints. We have received hundreds of reservations for our Studio System and are now shipping in volume to our customers in the USA. The Studio System is available in 45 countries, and we expect to begin international shipments in mid-2019.”

How well (and how) does the system compensate for shrink in all directions in different part sizes?

“Shrinkage is dependent on a number of factors, including alloy used, geometry of the part and size. As part of the Desktop Metal design, printing and sintering process, our software analyzes all of the factors that impact the approximate 18-20 percent shrinkage and automatically adjusts scaling factors in each dimension to yield the intended part size.”

How much can one Desktop Metal Studio System make?

“With one Studio System printer, 12” x 8” x 8” is the maximum build volume, so any part that fits in that box can be printed. The Studio printer has a maximum print rate of 1 in 3/hr so the throughput of parts printed depends on the volume of the part you are printing. The debinder and furnace have the same build volume, but offer adjustable trays to batch process many parts at once, which is exemplified by our Studio Fleet offering.

For customers needing a higher throughput, Studio Fleet is a custom-configurable solution for in-house metal 3D printing—supporting a range of applications for low to mid-volume production. Built to scale, it leverages Studio System+ technology—including a software-controlled workflow and stackable shelving for batch processing—for the rapid production of high-quality, complex metal parts. For the first time, on-demand metal 3D printing will deliver accessible and scalable manufacturing that adapts to diverse business needs, part requirements, production volumes, and cost constraints. The Studio Fleet is available to be built in two configurations:

  • 3:1:1 – With 3 printers + 1 debinder + 1 furnace, customers can realize a 300 percent improvement in throughput for only a 50 percent increase in system cost.

  • 5:2:1 –  With 5 printers + 2 debinders + 1 furnace, users will be able to realize 500 percent improvement in throughput for only a 100 percent increase in system cost.”

For automotive, what kinds of parts are your customers targeting?

“Our automotive customers are targeting parts across all stages of product life cycle. For Studio, most applications are in the product development, prototyping and tooling (jigs/fixtures/molds) areas where lower volumes and quick turnaround times match well with the Studio’s capabilities. For the Production System, which will be available to ship in 2019, early applications we are seeing are in the replacement / aftermarket parts, customization and serial production where volumes requirements range from mid-to-high throughput. Many customers are developing end-use parts that will appear in new cars that have yet to hit the market and will deliver higher performance at a lower cost than the traditional manufactured alternative in today’s cars.”

How much faster is it than MIM? How much cheaper is it than MIM?

“For the Studio System, the time it takes to produce the initial part is 2-3 days. This compares to several weeks or even months with MIM due to the mold that needs to be designed and manufactured before the MIM process can begin. This allows customers to dramatically accelerate the time it takes to get an initial prototype for testing and validation work compared to the traditional MIM process. It also allows customers to iterate on their design and test each iteration before ordering the mold to be manufactured, which can save thousands in costly mold changes if a change is needed.

Because of the expense associated with manufacturing the mold in MIM, most MIM companies will not bid on any job that is less than 10,000 units due to the mold cost making the parts too expensive. The Studio System provides a more cost-effective solution for low-to-mid volume applications in the MIM industry, especially when leveraging the throughput and cost advantages of a Studio Fleet installation.”

What kinds of part sizes can I reliably print with the Desktop Metal Studio?

“With the Studio System printer, 12″ x 8” x 8” is the maximum build volume, so any part that fits in that box can be printed. In addition, we recently introduced a new swappable high resolution printhead with supporting software profiles allows for smaller parts with finer features and animproved surface finish. This creates opportunities for new geometries and applications with the ability to print parts similar to those produced with metal injection molding (MIM)—parts featuring sintered voxels as tiny as 240um in XY by 45um in Z, which is smaller than a grain of table salt—making it ideal for a variety of applications such as parts for consumer electronics, medical devices and automotive.”

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

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