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Belgium-based ValCUN is a new startup trying to make metal 3D printing more affordable and convenient, reported 3DPrint.com. The company is focused on aluminum and it has claimed that it can use scrap metal, even cans, as input for its products.
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Information is scarce on how the company aims to achieve this environmentally-friendly form of printing. 3DPrint.com mentions that: "the firm has referred to its technology as “molten metal deposition” and has mentioned that it uses aluminum wire feedstock. From one of the few images, we can see that it is a spooled metal wire that is melted."
The process that ValCUN employs is said to go as follows: first, the metal is melted, then the workpiece is heated using plasma and finally, the material is deposited. This procedure supposedly leads to less heat and energy expended compared to heating an entire chamber.
Jonas Galle, inventor of the technology and founder of the firm told 3DPrint.com that “molten metal deposition, MMD…was invented to counter the disadvantages of powder bed fusion processes…which are slow and expensive.” With MMD “we can even use granulate” and “with a cheaper feedstock and a lower cost machine, because we don’t use lasers, we can make direct metal 3D printing more accessible.”
Galle added that the firm was focused on “aluminum and later on copper.” In addition, he said that MMD means that less energy has to be expended on heating and, “especially with aluminum and copper, there would be lots of temperature loss." MMD’s additional advantages are that “there is less stress on parts and fewer problems with expansion and cracking.”
For our part, we are most interested to know how the firm plans to use metal scrap as input for their work. Galle does not go in detail regarding that fact so for now, we will just have to take their word that the firm is indeed implementing this eco-friendly option.