The Virtual Foundry’s 3D metal printing solution takes off - 3D Printing Industry
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The Virtual Foundry’s 3D metal printing solution takes off

One of the worlds largest OEM auto parts manufacturers ZF has successfully 3D printed large scale press-dies using The Virtual Foundry’s materials. Made with a desktop Prusa 3D printer the parts are used for the fabrication of sheet metal. This same result can be accomplished just as easily with an Ultimaker, Taz, Flashforge, or any other common filament based 3D printing hardware.

The success at ZF’s North American Headquarters and Technical Center in Northville, Michigan has led to expanded implementation at ZF’s global headquarters in Germany.

Metal 3D printing at scale

The scale of ZF’s tooling exceeds the print and sintering capacity of other available 3D metal printing solutions.

 The Virtual Foundry’s “open architecture” means that print size is limited only by the size of the printing and sintering equipment that can be sourced on the open market. To facilitate this, The Virtual Foundry provides perfectly paired sintering equipment to suit its customers’ needs.

The largest vacuum furnace to date is over 1 cubic meter. As a result The Virtual Foundry’s technology is poised to create some of the largest and heaviest objects 3D printed in metal to date. To make things simple The Virtual Foundrty also carries a series of 5 common furnace sizes on their website.

New agreements for The Virtual Foundry

With rapidly expanding demand in auto, aerospace, military and additive manufacturing education, The Virtual Foundry is poised for growth. According to The Virtual Foundry President Tricia Suess, “We are adding distributors around the globe and expect to announce a key partnership with India’s largest distributor of AM equipment and technologies in the coming weeks.”

Cooperation agreements with large companies, robust labs and key NASA metallurgical materials scientists are expected to bring FDM metal printing properties in-line with the powder-bed laser solutions currently used in aerospace parts fabrication. Bradley Woods, CEO, The Virtual Foundry, llc., states,

2019 is off to a very strong start. We exceeded 2018’s revenue in April of 2019. Our challenge now becomes rapid expansion in a market that barely existed 5 years ago. Our technical and finance partners all agree that now is the time to move forward aggressively. Our team is in place and ready to meet this challenge.

Getting Started with The Virtual Foundry

The Virtual Foundry is currently selling SS316L, 17-4, Copper, Bronze, Aluminum Oxide, Zirconium Silicate, High Carbon Iron and Tungsten, all of which can be sintered to a high density. Many users are finding applications for these materials in their extremely durable green state. Tungsten, for example, has found widespread applications as a direct replacement for lead in radiation shielding, vibration dampening and other applications where density is a key property.  

TVF will be announcing new materials throughout 2019. Its patent applies to sintering applications that include metal, glass and ceramic. A series of high-performance industrial ceramics will be among the next group of materials made available.

The barriers for entry into this technology are lower than any other AM Metal solution, The Virtual Foundry’s key differentiator. Anyone can go to their website and order a kilo of material for experimentation. Since it prints the same as any other plastic in your current 3D printer, success is guaranteed. Once you are up and printing, The Virtual Foundry’s capable sales and technical staff will help you complete your evaluation and implementation. More information can be found at TheVirtualFoundry.com

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Featured image shows Pure Stainless 316L fabricated with a $600 Flashforge 3D printer using The Virtual Foundry Filament. Photo via The Virtual Foundry