By Norihiko Shirouzu
(Reuters) – U.S.-based 3D printer maker Desktop Metal Inc plans to unveil as early as on Wednesday a new technology that will dramatically simplify the industrial sheet metal production process, Chief Executive Officer Ric Fulop told Reuters.
The technology Figur G15 is capable of shaping standard sheet metal on demand directly from a digital design file, eliminating the need of stamping tools, molds, dies, or presses and thus reducing costs and production lead time, Fulop added.
“This is a $300 billion market currently with no digital solutions,” he said, adding Figur G15 is due to be introduced at a trade show in Chicago on Wednesday.
The Massachusetts-based startup has BMW, Toyota Motor Corp and billionaire Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX among its clientele.
3D printing technology, which allows complex shapes to be built up in layers from particles of plastics or metal, is viewed by Washington as an innovation that will enable U.S. manufacturers to flourish and create jobs.
Fulop expects first-generation of the new technology to handle volume production of sheet metal parts for aircraft, agriculture and heavy-duty equipment.
In automotive assembly, however, the technology will be able to handle sheet metal shaping and stamping in low- to mid-volume, he added.
“It could support production of sub-10,000 vehicles a year initially,” Fulop said. “I am confident we will dramatically reduce the need for stamping over the next two decades.”
For now, the technology is only capable of forming sheet metal parts that fit in its 3D printer envelope of 1.5 meter by 1.2 meter and can process positive and negative forms up to 40 cm in the vertical direction, according to a company statement viewed by Reuters.
(Reporting By Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Himani Sarkar)