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The Virtual Foundry, Levil Technology and Sapphire3D partner for complete metal 3D printing lab

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Metal 3D printing filament manufacturer The Virtual Foundry has teamed up with 3D printing service provider Sapphire3D and CNC machine manufacturer Levil Technology to provide a complete metal 3D printing lab.

The companies have combined their respective expertise to produce the system, which includes The Virtual Foundry’s proprietary metal 3D printing filaments, Levil’s EDU-Mill equipped with the firm’s industry-grade dual head 3D printer, and Sapphire3D’s kiln.

The partnership aims to combine 3D printing and CNC machining in a single system to make the technology easier to use and more affordable for schools and organizations throughout the US. 

“The Virtual Foundry is proud to partner with Levil Technology to create a package that offers capabilities unique in the market,” said Tricia Suess, The Virtual Foundry President. “We appreciate their innovation in providing a full-service metal 3D printing bundle that includes CNC capabilities.

“This partnership was an easy decision and furthered our efforts to democratize metal 3D printing.”

Levil Technology's EDU-Mill CNC-capable 3D printing system. Photo via Levil Technology.
Levil Technology’s EDU-Mill CNC-capable 3D printing system. Photo via Levil Technology.

The Virtual Foundry’s Filamet filaments

The Virtual Foundry set out with the goal of making metal 3D printing accessible to everyone and was one of the first to bring desktop 3D metal printing to the market with Filamet, the firm’s proprietary highly infused 3D printing filament. The combination of fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing and Filamet produces attractive and unique prints with a satisfying weight, that are infused with flecks of metal elements. Once printed, secondary processing using a kiln and The Virtual Foundry’s “Black Magic Powder” produces a pure metal print.

Filamet works with nearly all existing FDM/FFF 3D printers to produce real-world metal prototypes and easily-scalable short-run manufacturing systems in an open-market approach. The company’s strategy detaches the printing materials from the printing and processing hardware allowing greater numbers of less costly equipment, lower cost, and infinite flexibility, with users only limited by the capabilities of the FDM printer they are using.

The Virtual Foundry’s filament range includes Stainless Steel 316L, 17-4, Copper, Bronze, Aluminum Oxide, Zirconium Silicate, High Carbon Iron, and Tungsten, all of which can be sintered to a high density. The company’s materials and technology has seen rapidly expanding demand in automotive, aerospace, military, and additive manufacturing education in recent years, with previous customers including NASA, Mitsubishi, and the US Department of Energy.

The 2017 3D Printing Industry Awards trophy was made using metal filament from The Virtual Foundry.
The 2017 3D Printing Industry Awards trophy made using metal filament from The Virtual Foundry.

The metal 3D printing lab

The new system is equipped with additive and subtractive manufacturing capabilities, combining a FDM 3D printer and robust CNC mill in a single machine, Levil’s EDU-Mill. The EDU-Mill has a choice of Levil, FANUC, or Mitsubishi control, and features an optional dual head FDM 3D printing system with a build size of 70 x 85 x 105 cm. 

As part of the new partnership, Levil’s EDU-Mill will use The Virtual Foundry’s proprietary Filamet metal 3D printing filaments, allowing users to print and post-process full metal parts in a variety of materials. 

“Levil Technology could not have asked for better partners when it came to creating a metal 3D printing solution for our customers,” said Andres Leon, General Manager of Levil. “We wanted local partners that would provide expertise and support to our users and not only did they deliver but also exceeded our expectations. 

“Their products fit seamlessly with our space-conscious, low inertia machines. We cannot wait to see what our end users create when they have all these tools at their disposal.”

The system bundle also includes a kiln from Sapphire3D, designed to sinter The Virtual Foundry’s metal filaments. Sapphire3D is a reseller of the firm’s filaments, and provides design, printing, and sintering services to aid its customers in creating functional metal and ceramic parts.

“Sapphire3D is excited to partner with Levil Technology to offer affordable metal 3D printing to educational and industrial organizations worldwide as part of their full-service metal 3D printing bundle,” said Sapphire3D President, Dave Lawson. “Sapphire3D kilns are safe and easy to operate, designed and developed to sinter The Virtual Foundry metal filaments. Our kilns are designed and built in the USA. 

“We are in the very early innings of this technology, and I’m excited to see where Levil Technology, The Virtual Foundry, and Sapphire3D can take this partnership.”

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Featured image shows Levil Technology’s EDU-Mill CNC-capable 3D printing system. Photo via Levil Technology.





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