Vader metal 3d printer

Potential Home Metal 3D Printer: The Vader

By September 30, 2013. 3D Printers, Featured, News

The New York Maker Faire 2013 bore witness to a very promising home metal 3D printer. This Liquid Metal Jet printer goes by the name of Vader. The Vader metal 3D printer is created by father-and-son makers Scott and Zack Vader at Vader Systems. Yes, it does have a hexagonal tie-fighter style print bed. Yes, it does come in black…

Vader metal 3d printer

Liquid Metal Jet Printing (LMJP) builds metal parts – including highly pragmatic break-though applications such as mechanical elements and electronics. LMJP is similar to ink jet printing, whereby every individual molten drop is printed in a specific location.

The first step in the printer process sees an on-board cuboid electric furnace melt metal ingot for the extrusion material. A conventional 400-watt power supply powers the device – energy efficiency is not a problem here. The furnace is seen in the feature image as encased in a glossy-black cube.

Natural or induced magnetism propels the melted metal onto the printer bed: some metals naturally have magnetic properties; others, such as the first planned material for the Vader, aluminum, requires the electrical charge.

A head akin to that of an ink jet printer lays down droplets, layer by layer, building up the molten aluminum additively. By changing the extrusion orifice size, molten spheres of metal are then deposited.

The device can utilize thousands of nozzles to run at a similar speed to that of a 2D inkjet printer.

Zachary Vader, the 20 year old former mechanical engineering student son in the family team, believes copper, silver and gold should be relatively easy to add. Because the electrical conductivity of the metal is key to the printing mechanism, though, adding new materials may require some tweaking of the process,

The Vaders finished putting together the prototype a few days before their NYC Maker Faire debut, missing the print head. However, this process sounds feasible, if technically difficult to accomplish for a home maker team. These guys are performing near miracles.

Initial specs of the Mark 1 Molten Metal 3D Printer:

  • Liquid metal jet printed aluminum
  • Build volume: 250 x 250 x 250 mm
  • Resolution: 50 um
  • Build Speed: 20 mL/h
  • Power Requirements: 15 amp 120v
  • Weight: ~54 kg

The current version is designed for small businesses, with an intent to produce a sub USD$10,000 version aimed at home prosumers within a year. This will offer an interesting alternative in home metal 3D printers to the inevitable forthcoming laser sintering offerings when the technology’s patent expires next year.

More information on Vader Systems can be found here.


  • SwingKing

    Well, most metals aren’t ferromagnetic (or otherwise magnetic) in their molten state, so the induced magnetism will be necessary for most metals (all that I’m aware of) in order to drive them through the print head.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Got to say I think this one is a bit far fetched. Showing a chassis at an event is not the same as showing a working printer and looking at their website it appears that they have not in fact combines the two yet. So what you have is a printer chassis, probably reprap based, and an idea for a micro furnace and depositing system.

    Ideas are cheap. Production machines are hard. 1 year? 5 years. At least. If ever.

    • Steven Anderson

      It seems a little far fetch since materials loose their magnetic properties when liquified, do they not?

  • citynode

    If you’re going to show a picture of the thing, show a completed (or half-completed) printed metal part, that isn’t a mock-up. They have a very pretty mock-up device pictured: it would be more impressive to see a cobbled-together working prototype.

  • Just Thinking

    Well guys when criticized…smile and asked them where in Wiki could we read about their contributions to this world…keep at it and be willing to pivot as you progress…one quick question I would have though…is as we scale up and enlarge orifice size would we not loose accuracy? Would we basically be able to produce our own near net castings; however, never be able to eliminate machining?

  • JW McCamy

    Interestingly, there’s a sci-fi story from the 60s-70s about a group using this concept (electromagnetic propulsion of liquid metal) on a massive scale (utilizing the liquid metal in the core of a planet as the metal source) for a weapon