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ExOne and ORNL partner to advance binder jetting 3D printing

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3D printing company ExOne is once again teaming up with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the biggest U.S. Department of Energy open science laboratory, to advance the process of 3D binder jetting AM. Together, the partners will work to develop new binder systems for ExOne’s sand and metal 3D printers.

The joint effort will first see ExOne and ORNL specialists focus on developing new binder technologies with optimized chemistry and process parameters. In order to optimize the parameters for the binder process, ORNL will leverage its instrumentation and advanced data analysis methodologies. The project will also utilize the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) at ORNL with its unique instrumentation capabilities.

Notably, the partners are also seeking to optimize binder development for H13 Tool Steel, a metal commonly used in hot work and cold work tooling applications. ORNL expects that binder jetting processes will become the leading low-cost method for fabricating advanced tooling and plans to produce 500 tools and dies by 2022 for the molding, stamping and forging industries.

“We look forward to continuing binder jetting research with ExOne,” said Amy Elliott, ORNL lead researcher on binder jetting.  “Over the past several years, we’ve worked with ExOne on four binder jetting systems and we’ve made exceptional progress in enhancing this additive manufacturing technique. Industry collaborations such as this help the U.S. remain competitive in manufacturing.”

ExOne ORNL binder jetting

Rick Lucas, ExOne’s Chief Technology Officer, added: “By collaborating with a world-class lab like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, we accelerate ExOne’s binder jetting technology capabilities. We believe these collaborative efforts will effectively and efficiently result in the establishment of new materials, binders and process developments, retaining our significant edge over competitors and other technologies in the industrial manufacturing space.”

ORNL and ExOne’s partnership began around four years ago, when they joined forces to advance the latter’s binder jetting technology by leveraging ORNL’s resources and expertise. Over the years, the partnership has been fruitful, providing a mutually beneficial relationship based on knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Binder jetting is a particularly promising process within the additive manufacturing industry. The technology is capable of higher productivity and has lower operating costs compared to other industrial AM processes. Within the binder jetting subsection of AM, ExOne has become a leader in non-polymer binder jetting technology, especially sand and metal printing. The company’s AM platforms are already in use across a number of industries. Its S-Max 3D printer, for instance, has been become established within the foundry industry in recent years.

Last December, ExOne announced its newest printer: the X1 25PRO, a  high-res machine capable of directly printing metal, ceramic and other advanced materials. The 3D printer, which will start shipping to customers this year, is capable of printing standard industry powders (including those used for MIM and other powdered metal processes), making it compatible with a broad range of metals

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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