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Nuburu ships blue lasers for industrial additive project

31 May 2023

'Multiple units' delivered to partner Essentium to be used in additive manufacturing systems suitable for making metal parts.

Nuburu, the blue industrial laser pioneer that listed on the NYSE’s American Stock Market earlier this year, says it has delivered the first lasers for a new additive manufacturing (AM) system designed to produce metal components.

The lasers have been procured by Nuburu’s partner Essentium, under a “multi-year, multi-million” contract agreed by the two US-based firms a year ago.

Texas-headquartered Essentium plans to integrate the blue lasers within its “high-speed extrusion” (HSE) system to create a wire-fed metal 3D printing solution - initially for product development, with manufacturing applications expected to follow.

When they announced the agreement last year, Nuburu and Essentium said that the new additive platform would be designed to couple high throughput with extremely high part quality. They envisage broad-scale use across automotive, aerospace, and defense markets.

Blue advantages
News of the shipments follows Essentium’s launch of a “parts-on-demand” service in March, with the firm’s CTO and co-founder Elisa Teipel saying:

“Nuburu’s unparalleled expertise and leadership in blue laser technology have been instrumental in advancing our cutting-edge 3D printing platform. The arrival of the latest units this year and our partnership with Nuburu will help us continue to drive innovation in the AM industry.”

Blue wavelengths are more readily absorbed by metals - particularly colored material like gold, copper, and related alloys - meaning that shifting from the near-infrared lines produced by conventional sources ought to deliver a significant increase in speed and efficiency. Other advantages include a smaller spot size, and high-brightness emission.

In their most recent investor presentation, the Nuburu executive team led by CEO Mark Zediker suggested that AM systems based around blue lasers would be able to print much larger parts than conventional systems, and to produce them seven times faster with much lower energy usage.

DLP combination
Earlier this month the firm said it had delivered another of its blue lasers, also for an additive system, for a research project supported by the US Air Force.

The aim of that effort is to combine the absorption advantages of the blue laser with the ability to project an image onto the powder bed using a digital light projector (DLP) component from Texas Instruments - an approach expected to dramatically increase the speed of 3D printing of metal parts.

“The speed increase is the result of using an image that is up to 30,000 times larger than the single spot used today while delivering the same resolution as today’s printers,” explained the firm.

“This 3D printing architecture can be scaled to enable high-density materials to be printed at speeds of 100 [times] or greater, while dramatically reducing CO2 emissions.”

The latest developments come shortly after Colorado-based Nuburu revealed that it made an operating loss of $5.3 million on sales of $0.5 million in the opening quarter of 2023 - and a balance sheet indicating only $1.5 million in cash and equivalent liquid assets at the end of March.

”We had a very impactful first quarter of 2023,” commented Zediker. “We have seen continued forward progress in our key markets of welding, 3D printing and defense.

“In particular, our work with the US Air Force and our ongoing partnerships underscore the building momentum in our commercial pipeline.”

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