MetalMaker 3D, a Connecticut-based start-up, has launched a rapid prototyping service integrating 3D printing with investment casting. Aimed at creating functional metal parts, the service has been launched as a more cost-effective alternative to Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).
“By combining additive manufacturing with investment casting, we get the best of both worlds: the design freedom, customizability, and rapid iteration of additive, along with the consistent mechanical, dimensional, and material properties of metal casting,” said Eric Sammut, CEO of MetalMaker 3D.
An alternative to metal 3D printing
Earlier this year, MetalMaker 3D was announced as one of ten companies to be selected for the Techstars and Stanley Black & Decker additive manufacturing accelerator. With this backing, the company furthered the development of an industry-compatible solution for producing metal parts on demand.
Through investment casting, MetalMaker 3D’s process offers truly isotropic metal parts, which can be up to ten times cheaper than parts made with DMLS. Production of these parts is completed with just one week of lead time. Investment casting can also cut down on the extra post processing time needed to polish, smooth and grind the surface of DMLS parts to a required standard.
Like 3D printing, MetalMaker 3D aims to bring the end user closer to manufacturing process. “Our goal is to enable manufacturers to use this additive pattern investment casting process in-house to produce custom metal parts in less than 24 hours,” explains Sammut.
MetalMaker 3D is currently developing small-scale foundry systems for in-house prototyping and low-volume production. The process will initially provide a rapid prototyping service for aluminum parts with 356 casting alloy as well as an optional T6 heat treatment.
“We can match the alloy, process, and heat treatment to create functional metal parts that are indistinguishable from commercially manufactured components.”
Featured image shows 3D printed metal parts. Photo via MetalMaker3D.