As further proof that binder jetting technologies are living through a new renaissance, GE Additive has released the first image of a prototype of a brand new additive machine, named Project H1, based on binder jet technology that will eventually challenge the need for castings. Further iterations of this machine will be made in early 2018 with the first production machines being shipped mid-2018.
“We see great demand for binder jet technology in the aerospace and automotive sectors. We are committed to accelerating the additive manufacturing industry and will continue to build on our strength in the laser and EBM modalities by developing and bringing new technologies to market. We have a progressive approach to innovation and product development. I challenged the team to develop this new machine in 55 days. They came in ahead of time with the process of concept to first print taking only 47 days.” Mohammad Ehteshami, Vice President and General Manager, GE Additive.
The news comes in the wake of the announcement from HP that the company will enter the metal 3D printing arena with a similar MIM based technology, as well as the continuing evolution of BMW/Stratasys/Google-funded Desktop Metal’s production capable binder jetting system. Industry consensus seems to be that binder jetting processes may be a better fit for large batch production since they are more affordable and faster than powder bed fusion processes even if they do require firing.
With the new binder jet machine which can print large parts with a range of materials, including stainless steel, nickel, and iron alloys, GE intends to challenge and disrupt traditional manufacturing techniques rather than compete with other technologies. The main use of the new machine will be to remove the need for castings and therefore expensive tooling, as molds and infrastructure are not required. GE anticipates this first prototype machine is faster than any binder jet machine on the market today. The only binder jetting metal 3D printers on the market today are produced by ExOne and Digital Metal, however, Digital Metal focuses primarily on extremely small and precise components.