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How Area Printing Works

 When we look back throughout history, there are moments where innovations and technologies create sea change for industries. The printing press. The assembly line. The semiconductor. Incredible transformations for production and value previously unheard of at their time of adoption. For metal Additive Manufacturing, Area Printing will serve as a historical turning point for an industry now equipped with limitless capabilities. 

Drawing our inspiration from Georges Seurat

By applying thousands of tiny spots of pure color, French painter Georges Seurat fathered a new style of painting: pointillism.

 

The method essentially allows a viewer's visual perception to assemble broader tones, subjects, and themes from thousands of smaller brush strokes—woven together to form masterpieces on a single canvas. From afar, the works appear painted the same way techniques devised before them had done for centuries. Up close, however, one sees the genius in the composition of seemingly endless points serving a much greater whole.

 

Like Georges Seurat's brush technique, Seurat Technologies applies the same basic principle to laser light and powdered materials. Unlike traditional additive manufacturing, Area Printing from Seurat uses a powerful laser containing over 2.3 million pixels—like brush strokes—to micro-weld thin metal powder layers to the area below it, manufacturing entire renderings at once in a single defined area. 

         

Area Printing connects the dots to give the world a new perspective.

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Breaking out of the pack

There are a select number of profitable and AM serial production applications which can be found in the energy, medical, and aerospace sectors. Besides these high-end industries, the technology has reached a limited adoption rate. The main reason is neither due to lack of knowledge or poor performance of the technology, but rather it lays in the high total cost of ownership. Today's established metal AM technologies such as Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM) cost between 1-2 $/cm³. To be competitive with traditional serial manufacturing, the cost must be reduced by more than a factor of 10 to less then 0.1 $/cm³.

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Area Printing | Illustrated

Download this infographic that illustrates in ten steps the power of Seurat's patented, game-changing Area Printing technology. 

Area Printing vs. Conventional 3D Printing

How it's been done the last four decades

For over 30 years, designers and engineers have spent countless hours exploring the potential of 3D printing, presenting numerous use cases to their stakeholders and customers. So far, only about 10,000 metal 3D printing systems have been installed worldwide. Many are located at R&D labs, and only a fraction have made it to the production shop floor.

 

Viable applications are limited to high end parts such as medical implants and turbine engine components. Despite enormous advancements in topology optimization, generative lightweight design and optimized engineering cycles, there is one key aspect missing which results in many ideas never making it into production: in the end, the cost of today’s Additive Manufacturing is just too high.

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How Seurat's Area Printing changes the game

Seurat has developed and patented Area Printing, which has the potential to break through the limits of today’s metal Additive Manufacturing. Rather than increasing the number of laser sources, Seurat uses a completely new method of beam manipulation to increase melted volume per time.

 

While the usual metal AM system works with a spot diameter of 100 μm square spot size, the Seurat system delivers two million points of laser light into a 15 mm square area, with each point of light having a roughly 10 μm diameter. With this method, Seurat can simultaneously increase build rate massively, while also improving resolution.