3D Printers

Plans to Make Metal 3D Printing Systems Faster and Better

Sigma Labs recently announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Interactive Machines Inc (IMI) outlining how the companies plan to collaboratively “explore the formation of a joint venture or other arrangement for the purpose of developing and commercializing next-generation 3D Printing devices designed to produce an increased output of up to 10X over currently available 3D metal printing machines.”

Sigma LabsThis is a lofty aim indeed, but a good one and if they succeed it’s not hard to see the that many of the big manufacturing companies — across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors in particular — that will want in. The payoff could be huge. As would be expected, the overall time frame for this is fairly lengthy and we’ll have to wait at least a year to ‘see’ anything. The plan is to have a definitive agreement in place before the end of the June this year with a prototype demonstrator planned for Q3, 2014, subject to the parties obtaining adequate financing to implement a business plan.

Accordingly, Sigma Labs is expected to have worldwide, exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights to the new metal 3D printing system while IMI would own the IP, which would generate royalties as a result.

Both companies agree that: “the complementing areas of expertise of the two companies will be important in creating a unique machine that is designed to significantly outperform existing 3D metal printing devices in terms of deposition rate while maintaining requisite part quality.”

One assumes that with the timeline in place there must be some sort of process development underway already, they can’t seriously be starting from scratch? I also find it interesting that while the press release makes no reference to process or specific technology, it does state “deposition rate.” I could well be over-thinking this, but no current metal 3D printing / additive manufacturing processes use deposition of build material (only binder in some cases) as deposition is not ideal for metals. Is that a clue? Probably not, in which case “build rate” would have been more sensible terminology.

However, taking all that into account, my interest is seriously piqued and I am extremely curious to see what comes next.

However, there is, of course, a disclaimer: “Pursuant to the MOU, neither Sigma Labs nor IMI is obligated to take any action until mutually acceptable, definitive agreements have been executed by the parties. There is no assurance that the parties will be able to enter into the definitive agreements on the terms proposed, or on any other terms.”

Source: Sigma Labs