Desktop Metal to unveil Figur G15, a 3D-printed sheet metal technology for cars, and planes; and disrupt the $300 billion market
Sheet metal is any metal that can be formed into flat pieces of varying thicknesses. Unlike thick metals (also known as plates), sheet metals are used in cars, automobile and truck bodies, major appliances, airplane fuselages and wings, tinplate for tin cans, roofing for buildings (architecture), and many other applications.
Sheet metal is also a $300 billion market with currently no digital solutions. Now, one tech startup company is on a mission to disrupt the industry with its 3D-printed sheet metal technology called Figur G15.
Desktop Metal is a Burlington, Massachusetts-based 3D printer maker that designs and markets 3D printing systems. The company was founded in 2015 to make metal and carbon fiber 3D printing accessible to all engineers, designers, medical professionals, and manufacturers.
For the first time, Desktop Metal is unveiling its 3D-printed sheet metal technology Figur G15 on Wednesday at International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS 2022). The event, which will run September 12-17, 2022, is where the creators, the builders, the sellers, and the drivers of manufacturing technology come to connect.
The Figur G15 is the first commercial platform of its kind to shape sheet metal on demand directly from a digital file. A software-driven ceramic tool on an XY gantry forms the sheet with up to 2,000 lbs of force in a highly engineered and proprietary build zone, Desktop Metal said on its website.
Unlike the existing technology, Figur’s patent-pending Digital Sheet Forming (DSF) technology eliminates the need for a traditional stamping press or custom tools, molds, and dies – delivering sheet metal forming that is accessible, flexible, and cost-effective, even at low volumes.
“On the Figur G15, however, the same quantity of parts could be produced in weeks with an all-in part cost of approximately $10 primarily materials and labor. That’s less than 10% of the cost of traditional stamping with no lead time required.”
Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop told Reuters that the new Figur G15 technology will dramatically simplify the industrial sheet metal production process. Fulop also added that Figur G15 is capable of shaping standard sheet metal on demand directly from a digital design file, eliminating the need for stamping tools, molds, dies, or presses and thus reducing costs and production lead time.
“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.
Desktop Metal has also attracted the attention of major automakers and manufacturers and customers are already lining up for the new technology. Desktop Metal currently has over 6,000 customers including BMW, Toyota, and billionaire Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX.
Fulop told Reuters that he expects the 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 the 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.”