Industrial 3D printer manufacturer EOS has been working with precious metal supplier Cooksongold for about two years to develop a commercial machine for 3D printing with precious metals. Since beginning their partnership, their precious metal printer has made appearances at trade shows and has been used to produce watches and jewelry, but, now, the two have announced that the PRECIOUS M 080 Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) system is ready for market.
At the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair 2014, the companies announced that the PRECIOUS M 080 will be commercially available through Cookson. The precious metal supplier, a part of the Heimerle + Meule Group, will also act as a service bureau, providing 3D printing services to clients that range from the watchmaking to jewelry industries and beyond. European Product Manager at Cooksongold, David Fletcher, explained how the new technology would aid designers in those fields, “Utilising the power of 3D CAD design, DMLS technology will challenge a designer’s imagination and enable the creation of jewellery and watch components that previously would have been impossible to successfully manufacture. AM will change the economics of producing watch and jewellery products by offering a streamlined manufacturing process that dramatically reduces the time required from design conception to final part realisation. DMLS will also enable the production of design-driven pieces that are not limited by the restrictions of conventional production techniques such as lost wax casting, eliminating many process steps and costs that we normally encounter.”
With an 80 mm diameter build platform almost 95 mm tall, , the PRECIOUS M 080 system uses a 100-watt fibre laser to produce high resolution, detailed parts. The machine’s cartridge-based system with an extraction cartridge for quick powder removal, according to the companies, allows for short downtime between jobs. At the moment, the PRECIOUS M 080 can 3D print in a range of gold alloys from powder produced by Cooksongold, but the company plans to expand the material line in the near future. On top of the services and machine offered, Cooksongold will also be providing its own training packages for the new system at the company’s facility in Birmingham, UK or at the client’s own facility, upon installation.
Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at EOS, Dr. Adrian Keppler, said of the new system, “This Additive Manufacturing (AM) process introduces an innovative and paradigm shifting technology to the luxury goods industry. With Cooksongold we found the perfect partner for the extension of our technology into this industry. Additive Manufacturing paves the way for a completely new approach towards design and manufacturing, enabling the design-driven manufacturing the industry has long been searching for.”
As you may have read on 3DPI, the 3D printing of precious metals has opened up unique prospects for 3D designers. Earlier this year, design studio Nervous System teased the public with a gold swatch (seen in the feature image above) made with the PRECIOUS M 080 machine that hinted at elegant designs yet to come. Dr. Richard Hoptroff also used the system to manufacture a gold atomic watch. If you consider the fact that designers will be able to create even more elaborate and complex pieces of gold jewelry with such a system alongside the fact that, as 3D printing analyst Terry Wohlers often points out, the jewelry industry is even bigger than the automotive industry, the PRECIOUS M 080 3D printer could have quite an important impact across the board.