3D printer printing metal products available for pre-order for $ 750

    Industrial 3D metal printers that can print a rocket engine or gun cost tens of thousands of dollars. Printers available to the mere mortal, priced up to $ 1,000, so far only know how to work with plastic. American engineer and entrepreneur David Hartkop intends to change that. His Mini Metal Maker printer will cost just $ 750 in kit and parts, and $ 1,000 in a fully operational form.

    The printer uses metal clay for printing - a material invented in 1990 in Japan. A metal clay consists of the smallest particles of metal mixed with an organic binder and water. From this clay, you can sculpt or stamp products using molds. After drying, the product is burned - the organic binder burns out, and the metal powder is sintered into a monolithic piece of metal. When firing, the product shrinks from 8% to 30%.

    Metal clay is used in jewelry and for the manufacture of small sculptures. It can be found in online stores selling products for creativity. A metal clay can be prepared on the basis of most commonly used metals and alloys - copper, bronze, brass, iron, steel, gold, silver. Many types of metal clay can be baked with a conventional gas burner, but a small muffle furnace does not hurt.

    The prototype Mini Metal Maker has a resolution of 0.5 millimeters. Hartkop promises to bring the resolution to 0.2 mm in the production model. After firing, the products lose the layered structure characteristic of 3D printing and practically do not differ in mechanical properties from any other piece of metal - they can be bent, drilled, and filed. If enough funds are raised, the printer will have a second print head for simultaneous printing with another type of metal clay or for printing supporting elements. When using clay grades with low shrinkage, theoretically it will be possible to immediately print working mechanisms in assembly.

    The working area of ​​the printer has a size of 6x6x6 centimeters. It will be possible to refill the printer with any metal clay or similar material in consistency, however, you may have to tinker with the selection of a suitable density of the mixture. However, it will be possible to buy a ready-made mixture with a guaranteed suitable consistency.

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