New Metal-Forming Technology Creates Design Freedom

DN Staff

May 13, 2009

1 Min Read
New Metal-Forming Technology Creates Design Freedom

A new metal-forming technology allows mechanical designsnever before possible with traditional manufacturing processes.

Called MQast, the process uses additive fabrication to formintricate, bending channels and very tight tolerances from fully dense aluminumor stainless steel. One potential use could be microfluidic channels in thetips of channels manufactured for surgical instruments.

"This should really open up design," says Scott Turner,president of Scicon Technologies of Valencia, CA. "We don't want engineers tothink about the constraints of a process. We want them to make the bestpossible design and then tell us to make it."

Scicon, a rapid prototyping and manufacturing servicebureau, partnered with 3D Systems of Rock Hill, SC, to form MQast, a newcompany based in Valencia, CA.

The new metal-forming technology is based on research originallydone by Charles W. Hull, the chief technology officer of 3D Systems and the inventor ofstereolithography, creating the rapid prototyping industry in the 1980s.

"The MQast process delivers aluminum or stainless steelparts directly from CAD in days, and the parts are ideally suited foraerospace, medical and automotive applications," says Hull.

The technology was announced at Rapid 2009, an industryconference being held in Schaumburg, IL.

Officials would not disclose any of the technology orequipment used in MQast, although the technology is based on additive systemsthat build layers of material in tiny increments. The process is best forcomplex designs, and is usually only economic in low volumes. However, MQast could become a series process if no exisiting technology such asinjection molding or casting can replicate the design. One of the benefits ofadditive fabrication is that no molds are required and parts can be deliveredquickly. Disadvantages are that individual part production is slow andmaterials can be expensive.

The current build envelope is a 10-inch square. Orders can beplaced on line using .stl files at

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