EOS M 100 Review
EOS was founded in 1989 and is one of the leading manufacturers of 3D industrial printers. The EOS M 100 was designed for entry-level, industrial 3D printing in complex metal parts. With additive manufacturing 3D printers (especially those that create metallic objects) costing upward of half a million dollars, at about $350,000, the EOS M 100 is an affordable alternative.
The M 100 not only builds items with complex geometries out of several different metals, but it is a thoroughly up-to-date 3D printer. Companies looking to replace how they manufacture items using traditional methods will not want to overlook this printer's capabilities. For an entry-level, laser 3D printer that makes a variety of small, metallic parts, the M 100 is a viable, affordable option.
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Using the latest direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) technology, the M 100 downsizes the price of metallic 3D printing without sacrificing abilities. The ideal application of this printer is when small metallic parts are required, because plastic parts are not strong, durable or heat-resistant enough. Many industries that require small parts with tight tolerances can use the M 100.
The M100 works by turning powdered cobalt-chrome, stainless steel or titanium raw material into a variety of complex parts. It uses a powerful laser and steerable mirrors to precisely trace the item under construction out of a bed of powdered raw material. The laser's beam selectively melts the metal particles in the shape of the object, and the molten metal solidifies to form the item one thin layer at a time.
After each layer solidifies, the M 100 begins the next one by lowering the circular build stage and laying down a new layer of raw material.
At 200 watts, the ytterbium laser has a focus spot of 5 microns and builds the object in precise 30-micron slices. One thing to be aware of with this printer is that the M 100 requires the use of a nitrogen- or argon-inert atmosphere in order to build objects. The system needs 60 pounds per square inch of gas pressure available from either individual tanks or a building-wide gas delivery system.
A smaller version of EOS's M 290 system, the M 100's laser sintering systems manufacture a variety of engineering, industrial, and medical products, including spinal implants, automotive heat exchangers, and customized wristwatch cases. The machinery is used extensively to make crowns, bridges and other items out of cobalt-chrome alloy for dental restorations.
Its cylindrical build chamber has a steel stage with a 3.9-inch diameter. The M 100 can make objects as tall as 3.7 inches long and tops out at objects as large as 2.9 liters. By contrast, the M 290 has a larger build chamber that can make things that are nearly six times bigger and up to 12.8 inches long.
That said, the M 100 machine is the size of a refrigerator at 31 x 37 x 89 inches and weighs 1,300 pounds. Standing on the floor, it doesn't require a stand or cart. However, its counterpart – the EOS M 290 – is the size of a restaurant's walk-in freezer and weighs almost a 1.5 tons.
Meant for creating small parts, the M 100 uses the same material for supports to prop the item up where it might sag or warp under its own weight. When the object is completed, it needs to be manually removed. The surface of the M 100's raw output is often too rough for immediate use. EOS sells post-processing shot peening machines and heat-treatment furnaces to finish your 3D printed object.
Ease of Use
The center of attention with the M 100 is its large color screen that presents a process flow overview of the machine. It shows a schematic of the printer alongside rectangular boxes for current options. In addition to displaying what the machine is currently doing and its raw material supply level, any faults are indicated.
EOS includes EOSprint and RP Tools software. The former is the M 100's process control software; the latter creates the slices needed to manufacture the items in addition to designing supports and repairing any faults in the design. It displays the object's ultimate height along with the current stage of production to show the build's progress.
The M 100's software is for PCs only. It works with 32- or 64-bit Windows 7 or newer software. Unfortunately, that leaves out Macs and Linux workstations as well as iPhones, iPads and Android mobile systems.
As a production system, the M 100 is designed to run from start to finish without any intervention. It has interior illumination, and below the system's control screen, is a window for watching the laser's beam light up the raw material as it traces the shape of the item under construction. EOS's M 100 has a built-in 1.3-megapixel webcam so technicians can watch it (or a group of systems) from just about anywhere.
The M 100 outdoes many of its peers with gigabit-wired Ethernet but lacks Wi-Fi or the ability to use a dedicated USB workstation cabled to the printer. You can walk up to the system and quickly transfer files from a USB flash drive.
In addition to refilling and occasionally cleaning out the system's powdered material supply container, printer maintenance consists of emptying the waste bin as needed. Because the material drawer slides out, you can quickly change the metal feedstock from cobalt-chrome to stainless steel to titanium and back again, enhancing the M 100's flexibility.
The M 100 comes with a one-year warranty (EOS also sells extended coverage). EOS's website has specification sheets, descriptions of its models and material safety data sheets but not much more. It doesn't provide information in the way of self-serve diagnostics or support material that other 3D printer manufacturers provide openly on their websites.
One thing the German company does well is helping business get started using the M 100. EOS provides a basic training course for up to three technicians at its Krailling, Germany, headquarters. The five-day class instructs users on how the machinery works, its operations and the printer's accessories. EOS also offers on-site follow-up and specialized training courses.
In the U.S., the company's Pflugerville, Texas, facility has support technicians available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but users can leave questions at any time, day or night.
With its ability to make small metallic parts, the EOS M 100 uses a powerful laser to create durable parts accurately and reliably. EOS online support resources are sparse; however, the company delivers top-notch training to your staff so you can get the most out of the machine. At $350,000, it could bust the budget of a startup, but it is a powerful tool that can build tomorrow's parts and products using today's technology.
Our top pick for making a variety of metallic parts or products, the EOS M 100 is one of the most precise 3D printers on the market. It has the power to reshape how a company works by directly creating metallic parts and objects, but its output is limited to small items. At $350,000, it's not cheap, but the M 100 can more than pay for itself.