This past year, along with continuing to discover new 3D-printing materials , Desktop Metal has been busy making acquisitions to further its position as a leader and proponent of furthering the use of additive manufacturing (AM). Adding to its portfolio, which includes EnvisionTEC, Adaptive3D, Forust and Desktop Health, the company recently acquired Aerosint, a Belgian company pioneering multi-material deposition systems for powder-based additive manufacturing.
“This transaction advances our strategy to own differentiated print technologies that enable an expanding set of AM 2.0 applications at scale,” said Ric Fulop, Desktop Metal founder and CEO. “Multi-material printing is the next frontier in AM. Today people print parts, but in the future, people will look to print full products, which may be composed of multiple materials. Industrializing Aerosint’s core technology and related powder processing systems will provide many benefits to the broad adoption of AM solutions.”
Aerosint, a wholly-owned subsidiary run by founders Edouard Moens de Hase and Matthias Hick, created a patented selective powder deposition technology that paves the way for the broader uses of additive manufacturing. Its process enables three-dimensional control of where material is placed during printing. The company’s innovative approach allows for high-speed printing via laser powder bed fusion using different powders, including polymers, metals and ceramics.
“At Aerosint, we believe the future of AM is going to be multi-material,” said Moens de Hase. “We are thrilled to partner with Desktop Metal to accelerate the execution of this vision, now with access to its scale, distribution network and industry-leading AM 2.0 technology portfolio.”
When the company was founded in 2016, the co-founders had a vision to fill a void for a multi-material process that was also reasonably priced and resulted in minimal waste. By focusing on powder deposition technology, which uses two layers to form a layer, it enabled the use of multiple types of powders. The results: printing parts with new properties and better use of materials.
Aerosint’s digital process is capable of depositing two or more powders to create one layer with different materials. This innovative recoating system has multiple benefits—from thermal conductivity to electrical conductivity, wear resistance, abrasion resistance, magnetic performance and aesthetics—that can be used for various manufacturing processes, including:
- Molds with conformal cooling channels optimized for heat dissipation,
- Wear-resistant cutting tools with a hard exterior and ductile interior,
- Conductive metal paths within polymer parts for flexible electronics,
- Bi-material luxury goods with superior aesthetics, and
- RF components with different dielectric and conductive properties.
The process enables tweaking chemical and physical properties, perhaps opening the door for enhanced products and methods. It minimizes post-processing time while enhancing lead times, both essential to businesses across industries. The company also believes that this technology can eventually incorporate into other powder-based AM processes, including binder jetting, high-speed sintering or selective laser sintering.
Interested in other innovations that are creating more opportunities for using additive manufacturing? Check out Protolabs Gives Metal 3D Printing a Size Boost and BMF Makes Micro 3D Printing a Reality .