US printing giant Xerox has moved into metal 3D printing with the acquisition of New York-based start-up Vader Systems - creator of the first liquid metal 3-D printer for manufacturing. The process uses aluminium, which opens up potential signage applications.

Led by father-son team Scott and Zach Vader, Vader Systems has designed and created what's believed to be the first liquid metal 3-D printer for manufacturing. Vader’s technology is able to produce parts at rapid speeds, low costs and with minimal waste by using wire feedstock to print up to 1,000 metal droplets per second. The process uses a range of aluminium alloys.

Xerox has not disclosed details of the deal, which was announced last week at its 2019 Investor Day.

The company says it’s also looking at the high speed plastics printing market, with both plastics and metals expected to move into commercial production this year.

“We are leveraging our experience and expertise in digital printing to polymer and metal 3D printing technologies and will introduce new equipment, materials, services and design tools to the market,” said Xerox in a statement.

“Manufacturing customers want to use 3-D printing, but the current offerings only serve the prototyping market well, not broad manufacturing. Xerox developed, acquired and partnered printing software and material technologies are expected to deliver the productivity, materials range and cost and design tools to enable part manufacturing.”

Xerox CEO John Visentin said last year: “We are developing a roadmap to participate in 3D printing. We currently manufacture 3D print heads that we OEM, where we have differentiated capabilities around print technologies, materials, toner and software that will enable 3D printing to move to the next level of adoption for the production of end-use industrial products.”


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