3D printing continues to improve, and Desktop Metal is pushing the bounds even farther with their new desktop printer, Fiber. This new printer promises to deliver “industrial fiber performance” that is more affordable than traditional approaches.
Desktop is able to make these claims based on a new process of 3D printing called micro automated fiber placement, or micro AFT. This new process allows printers to create high-resolution parts with industrial-grade continuous fiber composite materials. Objects printed with these materials are stronger and more rigid. In fact, they are twice as strong as steel but have only 20 percent of the weight. Usually, such systems would cost in the millions and wouldn’t be made to fit on a desktop. Desktop Metal is able to do this by combining AFT tech with Fused Filament Fabrication and using a robotic tool changer architecture. “For the first time, Fiber printers combine the material properties of high performance AFT continuous fiber materials with the affordability and speed of a desktop 3D printer,” says Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal.
What this means is that lightweight but strong materials used for such things as race cars, bicycles, and more can now be printed from the convenience of your desktop rather than sending out for them. “Weight is everything in racing,” explains Will Turner, president of Turner Motorsport. “Being able to replace critical metal components with 3D-printed continuous fiber means we can retain the strength of metal while lowering the overall weight of the car—making it even faster and more competitive.”
Desktop Metal is making the Fiber printer available through a hardware-as-a-service subscription plan. You can choose between two options. The first allows printing of nylon-based continuous fiber materials and costs $3,495 per year. The second uses PEEK and PEKK-based materials and costs $5,495 per year.