No powder, no danger, no extra work – witness the dawn of a new AM age.

By enabling the production of incredible high-quality parts with the same ease and versatility afforded by inkjet printing, XJet technology is forcing the additive manufacturing industry to rethink its approach in metal and ceramic.

Its patented NanoParticle Jetting (NPJ) systems use a unique liquid dispersion technique, where liquid suspensions containing solid nanoparticles of selected build and support materials are jetted onto a build tray to create incredibly dense and detailed models.

The speed and accuracy benefits are significant. NPJ turns out complex components with superfine details, smooth surfaces and pinpoint accuracy, achieving remarkably thin layers of just a few microns.

However, it scores perhaps most highly over traditional powder-based ceramic and metal AM technologies by alleviating two of the biggest concerns facing exponents of such methods – namely safety and post-processing.

Up to now metal AM has employed a powder-bed fusion process known as direct metal laser sintering, which works by fusing together very fine layers of metal powder using a focused laser beam.

XJet Carmel 1400 AM System

It is a technique which poses huge risks and challenges to users, who must ensure that strict training and procedures are implemented and enforced to keep both their employees and facilities free from harm.

As parts produced in a powder-bed fusion system are buried in metal powder when they are done, a machine operator is required to remove both this and any other support material at the completion of the process.

These powders can cause damage to the eyes, lungs and respiratory system and may be carcinogenic, meaning workers must always wear the correct personal protective equipment to avoid direct contact with them. Reactive materials such as titanium are also a combustion hazard if combined with oxygen, meaning work chamber climates must be carefully controlled.

Other threats include laser radiation and welding fumes, which again can be highly reactive and may lead to combustion.

It is a common myth that, once a metal part is printed, it is ready to pull out of the machine and start using. In reality, the post-processing phase is both time-consuming and costly as it may include stress relief treatment, heat treatment, isostatic pressing, machining and surface treatment before it is anywhere near a ready-to-go condition.

But that is never the case with NPJ.

Developed by a team of industry experts over more than a decade, XJet Carmel machines deposit nanoparticles simultaneously in ultra-thin layers – you can even open the machine door and watch the print taking place.

By eliminating the use of powders, the technology is introducing a growing number of metal and ceramic materials to meet evolving industry needs.

End-part quality is unsurpassed, with models boasting 99.9 per cent density, isotropic uniformity and extremely low shrinkage, making them ideal for a multitude of precision applications.

Cavities and fine details can be created with no concern that they will be harmed in the support-removal process, as a separate material is used for support structures – a material that easily disintegrates post printing.

Youngstown Business Incubator CEO Barb Ewing sums it up perfectly. She said: “The XJet technology solves many of the common problems we see in additive manufacturing today. The detail you get from the high resolution it offers is really outstanding and requires very limited post-processing.

“The NanoParticle Jetting technology doesn’t require the use of powdered materials so it’s much safer, and because it prints support materials you have complete design freedom that you just don’t see in other applications out there.”

XJ3D is the first appointed worldwide partner of Israel-based XJet and the fifth company owned by the Derbyshire-based Carfulan Group, which works with leading UK manufacturers in multi-sensor metrology, turned-part measurement, 3D printing and tool pre-setting and inspection, empowering customers to improve their production processes and achieve end-product excellence.

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