Editor’s Pick: Print metal on plastics printer

Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit for Ultimaker S5 enables a switch between thermoplastic and metal printing.

Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit for Ultimaker S5 enables a switch between thermoplastic and metal printing.

The Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit for the Ultimaker S5 makes it possible to print strong parts with complex geometries not possible with thermoplastic solutions. Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

Ultimaker has released its Metal Expansion Kit, which allows its S5 professional 3D printer to switch between thermoplastic and metal printing. The kit is Ultimaker’s first solution for metal 3D printing. 

Ultimaker says S5 users will now be able to produce end-use items capable of high mechanical stress and thermal resistance far beyond the capabilities of high-performance thermoplastics. 

The company says the Metal Expansion Kit is “explicitly developed to remove existing process bottlenecks and limitations” by expanding Ultimaker print capabilities beyond thermoplastics. 

3D printed parts from the metal expansion kit. Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

The kit comes with materials that are automatically recognized by the printer using Near Field Communications (NFC), enabling efficient switching between printing plastics and metal on the same machine. 

Ultimaker updated its slicing software, Cura, to manage the new possibilities. 

Ultimaker says the kit includes all required items for metal parts preparation, from printing to accessing post-processing services. Included materials and print cores support the new metal filament (Ultrafuse 17-4PH) and the Ultrafuse Support Layer. For this kit, Ultimaker says it developed a new Print Core DD 0.4, which it describes as a highly wear-resistant core to print the required abrasive support material. 

No permanent hardware modifications are required; print cores and materials can be replaced the same as other print cores or filaments. 

Purchasers of the Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit have access to the Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy, a set of support resources developed in partnership with BASF Forward AM. Also included is access to the BASF Debinding and Sintering Order Management Portal, a network of debinding and sintering services for post-processing of the green 3D printed part to create final full metal parts.

The Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit will be available in North America, China, EU and UK in July 2022. Contents of the Kit vary by country; initially the BASF Forward AM Ultrafuse Support Layer and Ultimaker Print Core DD 0.4 will only be available in EU and UK.

To learn more about the Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit, visit: https://press.ultimaker.com/ultimaker-offers-the-first-complete-metal-expansion-kit—for-professional-3d-printing/

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website. 

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