BURLINGTON - Digital Alloys Inc. is looking to get into the research and development realm of 3D printing at its Burlington headquarters on North Avenue.

In order to earn this designation, they recently went in front of the Planning Board to open five separate special permits for its 37 North Avenue location.

Digital Alloys Inc. is a tech startup company with 21 employees. They are currently in the research and development phase of developing a metal additive manufacturing machine, a 3D Printer for industrial use. Unlike other methods of 3D printing, their process uses welding wire and electricity to melt metal using a patented method they named Joule Printing. Joule Printing is a low voltage, high current application, so there is no arc like in traditional welding.

“We heat the wire until it starts to melt, and then deposit the metal layer-by-layer,” explained Daniel Gerade, of Digital Alloys Inc. “Our goal is to build 3D printer prototypes and develop our printing process. Our first major goal is to print parts to be sold to customers. A long term goal is to manufacture and sell printers.”

They are in the research and development stage of their company’s existence at this time.

“Our plan is to deliver our first printed part by the end of year 2020 with printer production estimated at approximately two years out. We will require much more space than this building provides to go into full scale production,” Gerade announced.

In this space, they currently have an office area, assembly benches, a small chemical lab, and some measurement equipment along with a small machine shop. They use the machine shop to create parts for our machine, and to machine the printed parts we print. They then test their properties using various mechanical test equipment. When the company was started, the team moved in and started working without any modification to the building. Since they have had some electrical work completed, installed cubicles, and had a non-load bearing wall moved to increase the size of their machine shop.

They also had an Argon tank installed onto their existing loading dock. The company does not have any future plans for space modifications at this time as they are outgrowing the space and will not be able to add more equipment easily.

Digital Alloys Inc. is one of several 3D printing-based companies located in Burlington, with others including Desktop Metal and VulcanForms, both of which are in the same North Avenue neighborhood as Digital Alloys, Inc.

Though the planners want to wait until a formal decision by the Board of Health is made on this proposal, Planning Staff cited no issues with the five special permits before the board.

“The way [Digital Alloys Inc.] stores materials compared to the other 3D printing companies in Burlington is much less of an issue,” advised Planning Director Kristin Kassner. “They use and store metal coils, as opposed to the metal powders used by other companies.”

As they await the Board of Health’s decision, the planners voted to continue this matter to its next meeting on Sept. 3.

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