3DEO Launches New Metal 3D-Printing Platform
A digital end-to-end platform, the Manufacturing Cloud, is built to scale the company’s metal 3D printers into mass production.
California-based 3DEO unveiled in February its new metal 3D printing platform and patented technology, Saffron. The proprietary platform has been in development for the past five years. “Until now, we have revealed very little about our patented technology, and for good reason – we felt we had a tiger by the tail and wanted to gain as much advantage as possible,” said Matt Sand, 3DEO’s co-founder and president.
Using a hybrid additive manufacturing (AM) process that leverages binder jetting and CNC machining, the next-generation printer achieves superior results in terms of surface finish, material properties and dimensional accuracy, Sand said. The build area is 81 sq. in. (523 sq. cm), covered by eight spindles operating at 60,000 rpm with micron-level positional accuracy. Depending on part geometry or print speed required, the printer can automatically vary layer thickness anywhere from 50 to 500 microns.
The technology creates new possibilities in 3D printing, the company claims. It can define many layers at the same time and can cut upward-facing geometries in three dimensions, eliminating layer lines. “The printer is actually only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to mass production,” Sand added. “So, we gradually expanded scope from being focused only on the metal 3D printing technology to innovating up and down the entire production line.”
This holistic approach resulted in 3DEO’s digital end-to-end platform, the Manufacturing Cloud, with its new Saffron machine representing “the mass production breakthrough the industry has been waiting for,” the company claims. The Manufacturing Cloud is based on Jarvis OS, 3DEO’s proprietary software backbone. Jarvis takes in customer digital models and uses in-house computational geometry to convert them into digital work instructions. Its computer vision and machine learning modules provide feedback to monitor and control the platform.
“Imagine a world in which new products can be launched at the speed of software – in months, not years; and for thousands of dollars, not millions,” Sand said. “This manufacturing capability will level the playing field for all engineers. This exciting vision for the future of manufacturing will become a reality through 3DEO’s Manufacturing Cloud that we are building in Torrance, California.”
3DEO has more than 20 patents granted or pending across a range of applications including 3D printing, robotics, software and automation. To accommodate its accelerated growth, 3DEO more than doubled its facility in Torrance, spanning 80,000 sq. ft (7,432 sq. m) of manufacturing and office space. The company currently has 37 printers in production with plans to add 44 additional printers into production in 2022.
3DEO plans to install 125 of these next-gen printers in Torrance over the next three years, capable of producing more than 20 million parts per year in its initial factory. “We are in an exciting position for continued scale,” Sand said. “3D printing is a tiny fraction of manufacturing overall, which means we basically have unlimited room to run in the coming years.”
Accelerated growth in 2022
3DEO expects to triple its growth this year from 2021, with medical and aerospace companies largely driving the increase along with other industrial sectors. A significant driver is the continued global supply-chain disruption, which makes a strong case for increasing domestic production.
Metal-printing parts suppliers are helping companies regain control over the manufacturing process, according to Sand. He has cited MIT analysis that suggests 3D printing could reduce total supply chain costs by 50% to 90% as production shifts from make-to-stock offshore facilities that heavily rely on freight to make-on-demand facilities located closer to the final customer. Digital manufacturing allows OEMs to scale up or down as needed, enabling real-time responses to fluctuations in demand or disruptions in the supply chain, Sand added.
3DEO announced it had shipped its millionth customer part in July 2021. The company reports that the average order size across its customer base is 10,000 parts over a nine-month commitment period. It also executed shipments of more than 150,000 parts of a single component, accounting for the increase in average deal size by about 90% year over year.
“Shipping parts in these volumes allows 3DEO to compete with traditional manufacturing such as metal injection molding and CNC machining,” said Jim Golden, 3DEO’s VP of sales. An average uptime of 89% for its printers was achieved in 2021. The company says this ramped-up uptime has been key to 3DEO becoming the highest-volume metal 3D printing company in the world, citing 3dpbm Market Research.
The company’s team also expanded last year, by 91% to 175 total employees, with the engineering group growing by about 120% to a total of 33 engineers. “Beyond our headcount growth, 3DEO’s technological advantage continues to rise as we have the data and IP to create a powerful flywheel,” said Payman Torabi, 3DEO’s co-founder and CTO. “The possibilities for continued digitization and technology implementation in manufacturing are infinite.”