Materials

The Virtual Foundry filament for 3D printing metal on an FDM system

The Virtual Foundry, LLC (TVF) m​akes the first, and only open market FDM/FFF pure metal 3D printing solution. Filamet™ is a composite 3D printing filament that works with nearly all existing 3D printers and sinters with simple atmosphere furnaces that have been commercially available for decades.

The materials and supporting technology developed by The Virtual Foundry allow rapid real-world metal prototypes and easily scalable short-run manufacturing systems. Other forthcoming FFF/FDM closed-market metal printing solutions are limited to the hardware sold by those manufacturers, tightly limiting your options. The TVF’s open-market approach, means that print size is only limited by your 3D printer and furnace. Each of these are readily available in a wide range of sizes and formats.

The Virtual Foundry Stainless Steel 316L Filamet.
The Virtual Foundry Stainless Steel 316L Filamet.

The metal powders that make up Filamet™ are encased in a PLA compliant binder, making it far safer and much less expensive than existing laser-based metal 3D printing solutions. As a result using Filamet™ requires no special handling equipment. Also, Filamet™ debinds with only the heat (no solvents) used during the sintering process, completely avoiding separate debinding hardware and processes.

As companies race to bring their products to market first, TVF serves as a critical partner in a process that provides efficiencies in time, effort and cost. The Virtual Foundries’ open-market strategy detaches the printing materials from the printing and processing hardware allowing greater numbers of less costly equipment, lower cost and infinite flexibility.

Over the past few years TVF has pioneered open market 3D metal printing and provides full cycle additive manufacturing solutions including processing equipment. The Virtual Foundry’s flagship product, Filamet™, works in any open source (FFF/FDM) 3D Printer. The opportunities are endless and printing metal on the desktop in this manner is only restricted by the capability of the FDM printer selected. This creates a logical path to multiple printers for large scale additive manufacturing.

The Virtual Foundry is on a mission of growth and expansion. The 4th quarter of 2018 will see substantial investment in upgrading manufacturing equipment, extensive QA process implementation and the addition of materials scientists developing new materials.

TVF manufactures and sells Filamet™, 3D printing accessories, and sintering furnaces. They continue to develop new materials and research new methods of metal fabrication. Currently available materials include Stainless Steel 316L, Copper, Tungsten, Bronze and Iron filaments with 15+ more materials available by Special Order. They also develop custom solutions from a wide range of materials from any element or compound that can be sintered. Upcoming materials include everything from sand, glass and various refractories to high performance ceramics like zirconium oxide.

Standard furnaces range from 100mm x 100mm x 100mm (3.9” x 3.9” x 3.9”) to 400mm x 300mm x 300mm (15.7″ x 11.8” x 11.8”). They will also have any size and shape sintering furnace custom made by request, some as large as 1 Cubic Meter. Standard systems start at around $11,000.

More information about The Virtual Foundry is available online.

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Featured image shows a component 3D printed on an FDM machine in Stainless Steel 316L Filamet. Photo via Virtual Foundry

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