How ExOne Co. Expanded Its Addressable Market

The introduction of a superalloy validated its technology for aerospace applications.

Steve Heller
Steve Heller
Jul 20, 2014 at 12:36PM

By introducing the ability to 3-D print with Inconel 625, a nickel-chromium superalloy suited for high-strength and high-heat applications, ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE) can better compete in the rapidly growing 3-D printing aerospace segment. Inconel validates ExOne's binder jetting technology for aerospace applications because it's capable of producing over 99% part density, a necessary hurdle for aerospace manufacturers to take a metal 3-D printing technology seriously.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Jared Helfrich, global director at ExOne, what the company's ideal customer looks like and what the introduction of Inconel 625 means for new applications. Going forward, ExOne investors should monitor whether the introduction of Inconel 625 improves the company's reception in the aerospace industry.

A full transcript follows the video.

Steve Heller: In terms of the applications around ExOne's technology, what would you say is your ideal customer?

Jared Helfrich: Yeah, ideal customers are any OEM [original equipment manufacturer]. Basically anybody in the industrial space.

Heller: Anybody that's casting metal, anybody that's working with heavy machinery, that's your [ExOne's] target market?

Helfrich: Yeah, absolutely. It could be tooling, it could be general industry, it could be automotive, it could be aerospace; there's a variety of industrial applications.

Heller: Yeah, there's a lot of talk about aerospace these days and you [ExOne] guys just recently introduced this new metal, Inconel 625, is that a 3-D printed part of it, right?

Helfrich: Yes, it's a 3-D printed part of Inconel 625.

Heller: And this has 99% density or over 99?

Helfrich: Over 99, it's about 99.6% density.

Heller: So this essentially validates your technology to prove to the manufacturers that need that solid part component for really robust applications like jet engine components, things like that. Would binder jetting be a good fit for that now?

Helfrich: Yes. I mean, I think with binder jetting with the Inconel 625 it is a 99.7% dense, there's no matrix, there's no infiltrant it's basically printed and it's sintered and this is the part, and hipped, this is the part you'd see.

Heller: Very good so the implications long-term is that you're -- ExOne, it seems to be coming more competitive in the direct metal 3-D printing space, everybody -- you know, direct metal laser sintering, particularly, 99% density. This is a very popular hurdle to achieve so now is binder jetting well suited for aerospace? Can it handle as complicated a structure compared to direct metal laser sintering, is it as accurate, is it -- sort of what are the nuances between direct metal laser sintering and binder jetting technology?

Helfrich: I mean, certainly there's some differences. I mean, basically the binder jetting process you have faster speeds but you might not see the surface finish. There might be some differences in surface finish. This surface finish, as you see here is pretty good.

Heller: Yeah, it's very smooth honestly.

Helfrich: So in terms of the differences I'd say maybe see some differences in surface finish and tolerances but I think -- I would say that those are probably the big differences.