The material joins 17-4 PH stainless steel in Desktop Metal’s current materials offering with more to follow this year including tool steels, superalloys, and copper. Known for its high temperature and corrosion resistance, the company says the material is ideal for prototyping and low volume production applications in demanding environments such as the marine industry, caustic cleaners found in food processing environment, and chemicals in pharmaceuticals.
“The addition of 316L enables engineers to print metal parts for a wide range of applications, including engine parts, laboratory equipment, pulp and paper manufacturing, medical devices, chemical and petrochemical processing, kitchen appliances, jewellery and even cryogenic tools and equipment,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal. “Teams are now able to iterate quickly on 316L prototypes, print complex geometries that are not possible with most manufacturing methods, and produce end use parts cost-effectively.”
A number of customers have already been testing out the material for a range of applications including John Zink Hamworthy Combustion which used Desktop Metal’s technology to print a combustion fuel nozzle for a marine tanker. The UHT Atomizer is designed to improve low load burner performance which reduces operational costs when the vessel is maneuvering in port. With 3D printing, the atomizer can be radically redesigned to function in a more fuel-efficient manner.
The material has also been tested for use in the production of chemical impellers for Saudi Aramco, a leading energy and chemicals company and an early investor in Desktop Metal. Prototypes for such geometrically complex impellers would typically cost upwards of 1,000 USD or more but can now be printed in 316L for just 70 USD.
In addition, customised healthcare applications, such as ring splints, are also being tested due to the materials durability and finish. Ring splints which would traditionally be produced in standard sizes via injection moulding can be customised to fit and improve patient outcomes.
“As innovative companies across multiple industries adopt metal 3D printing, its critical to help accelerate this growth by expanding the portfolio of desired materials,” Fulop added. “Our materials science team is pushing the boundaries to enable printing metal parts for a growing range of applications in as wide a material portfolio as possible. The introduction of 316L is another step on our path to fundamentally change the way metal parts are designed and manufactured.”
In November last year, Desktop Metal announced a number of enhancements to its Studio System including a swappable high resolution printhead which delivers sintered voxels as small as 240 microns in the XY axes and 45 microns in Z. The company also recently announced another 160 million USD in investment, bringing its total funding to 438 million USD from investors including Ford, GV, GE Ventures and BMW and more.