ExOne has announced the launch of an office-friendly metal additive manufacturing system based on Rapidia’s water-based printing technology.

The ExOne Metal Designlab printer and X1F advanced furnace is being brought to market via a partnership between the two companies. Their agreement sees Rapidia founder Dan Gelbart become a technology advisor to ExOne, while also giving ExOne a right of first refusal for majority ownership of its Vancouver-based partner.

Set to start shipping in the second quarter of 2021, ExOne says the Metal Designlab ‘will compete directly with other bound metal 3D printing systems, such as the Desktop Metal Studio System 2 and Markforged Metal X.’ Harnessing Rapidia’s HydroFuse water-based paste, the Metal Designlab is able to produce parts which don’t require debinding before sintering by replacing 98% of the binder with water. ExOne and Rapidia believe this technology will help enable users to ‘print parts today and receive them tomorrow’ as opposed to waiting multiple days, while also ‘removing the limitation on maximum part thickness’ and printing ‘100% solid metal of any thickness’ to generate ‘maximum strength parts.’ Currently, 17-4PH and 316L stainless steels are offered, but ExOne and Rapidia are working to develop more metals and ceramics, with more product enhancements also promised. The X1F furnace is also compatible with ExOne’s binder jet line-up.

“We are delighted to partner with the visionary Dan Gelbart and the Rapidia technology team to offer the new ExOne Metal Designlab and X1F furnace,” commented John Hartner, ExOne CEO. “This technology is a true time-saving innovation that complements ExOne’s portfolio. Now, researchers, educators, and industrial designers will be able to bypass days of waiting and produce high-quality parts without the limitations faced by parts that require traditional debinding.”

In partnering with Rapidia, ExOne has expanded its product offering to the manufacturing market to include and office-friendly system, while also positioning itself at the front of the queue to capitalise on any potential sale of the Rapidia business. Rapidia first revealed its water-based metal 3D printing technology in 2019 which was designed over a number of years to speed up additive production. It was founded by Gelbart, an electrical engineer that also founded medical device company Kardium and laser technology Creo Inc, which was sold to Kodak in a $1 billion dollar deal in 2005. He has to his name 135 US patents, a popular YouTube series with over 30,000 subscribers and now joins ExOne as a technical advisor ahead of a potential merger.

“We set out to develop a simple, environmentally friendly system that creates the toughest, most intricate parts overnight,” added Gelbart. “Today, we’re excited to leverage ExOne’s global marketing and sales team to help customers around the world enjoy the benefits of our revolutionary technology. I also expect a lot of innovation to come from combining the deep technical knowledge of both companies. Now, users can 3D print complex parts today without any thickness limitations for solid parts and produce high-strength parts overnight.”

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