Recently, 3D printer and laser light source developer 3DM Digital Manufacturing announced a new technology that can process specific materials or applications by adjusting its SLS 3D printing laser.
Compared to carbon dioxide or fiber bundles, it is said that 3DM customizable lasers can produce components with higher resolution and improve mechanical performance in a shorter delivery time. The company has fully optimized its technology in a research and development environment and is currently preparing to market its proprietary equipment. Once released, these products are expected to drive various 3D printing application cases, with personalized customization being the key.
The core technology of 3DM digital manufacturing is the semiconductor laser developed by the company for 3D printing. This allows the company to effectively combine up to six lasers into a single beam to improve beam power and printing speed.
Using independently developed lasers, the light source developer’s technology can more effectively absorb laser light
“What makes us unique is that we manufacture our own lasers,” explains Ido Eylon, CEO of 3DM Digital Manufacturing Company
Although 3DM was nominally established in Israel in 2016, its technical roots can be traced back to the background of its major shareholder, Dr. Daniel Majer. The 3DM founder graduated from the Weizmann Scientific Research Institute in Israel and has been engaged in research and development of photoelectric components for 30 years. He also engaged in laser development and spent nearly 10 years researching 3D printing.
Based on Majer’s research, 3DM has now developed a laser that is about to be launched on the market, which can melt polymer powders 10 times faster than existing printing technologies. More importantly, this technology can improve the resolution of thermoplastic additive manufacturing to far higher than the current leading printer components, thereby opening up a new market for industrial 3D printing.
3DM believes that 3D printing can occupy a larger share of the global polymer material manufacturing market. Currently, although the lack of technological innovation has made industrial grade 3D printing “only occupy a few percent of this market,” the company said that its low cost and high scalability of technology are likely to change this situation.
3DM was originally an incubation company of Terralab Ventures, and currently still holds 23% of 3DM’s shares. 3DM has also been spun off and listed on the Israeli Stock Exchange. The company completed its IPO in June 2021, spending $13 million to launch the first batch of commercial products.
How are 3DM patented lasers different from other lasers on the market?
The light source itself is essentially composed of a group of miniature quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) smaller than rice grains. Each light source can emit several watts of energy, and its wavelength can be customized to accommodate a given material and part layer arrangement.
Unlike traditional fixed wavelength CO2 lasers, 3DM indicates that its technology can absorb laser light more effectively (possibly faster). The company also pointed out that its laser produced parts have a very high surface finish; The flexibility of its expected wavelength also makes it compatible with a wider range of materials.
In essence, 3DM actually fixes its laser to a component consisting of a cooling mechanism, driver, and lens to form a laser module, making it a saleable product. Some of them can be combined into a single beam unit, which can create the first multi wavelength point on a given powder during 3D printing, and can write partial geometric shapes. Combine four beam units to create a 3DM printhead.
In the first iteration of the product, the company combined four laser printheads and used a stitching algorithm to ensure that there were no gaps between the regions. In other words, the company stated that its method is scalable and introducing more light beams may improve 3D printing speed. In third-party testing, the technology has even produced components that have superior mechanical performance to other leading SLS printers.
In addition, compared to cheaper fiber lasers, 3DM technology can also achieve longer wavelengths without adding materials to ensure laser interaction. It is reported that the company’s laser can be emitted at any wavelength in the mid infrared spectrum, enabling it to match the absorption characteristics of any thermoplastic, and allowing users to choose the most economical raw material for a given use case.