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Desktop Metal on Tuesday morning will unveil its 3D metal printing system, which it believes will revolutionize the way metal components are designed and produced for automakers and a variety of other industries. Axios got a sneak peak yesterday:

Opportunity: The Massachusetts-based company estimates that the top ten global manufacturers produce around $1 trillion of metal parts annually, but just $1 billion of that is done via 3D printing. Co-founder and CEO Ric Fulop argues that existing technology is too expensive (machines can cost $1 million), too big (think 1970s computers) and too dangerous (workers often need to wear special breaching apparatus) because of fumes.

Basics: The company is building two different systems:

  • Studio: This is for engineers who want to prototype metal parts, and will begin shipping in September. They basically upload the desired designs, insert a cartridge of metal powder (which DM will sell, beginning with around 20 types) and then watch the part get built layer-by-layer. They then put the finished product into a microwave-based furnace box. One big technical advantage over other 3D metal printers is that the "supports" holding the parts in place just essentially disintegrate into sand, rather than need to be unbolted. No personal safety equipment is required, and Desktop Metal will sell either the entire system for $120k or $3,250 per month as a sort of subscription service with no money down (neither charge includes the cost of metal powder cartridges).
  • Production system: This one is slated for release in mid-2018, and is basically the mass production printer. The supposed advantages again will be cost (around $360k per machine), speed, size and safety. Plus, parts will be "nested" instead of welded.

Location, location: Desktop Metal is initially building all of its products at its Burlington, Mass. headquarters, but knows it will soon have to outsource production. That said, Fulop wants to keep manufacturing local, saying that Desktop Metal's CTO should be able to drive to the line in case of problems.

DNA: Fulop is the former CEO of lithium battery maker A123, which he helped take public. Other co-founders include Matt Verminski (ex-Kiva Systems, now Amazon Robotics) and MIT professors Ely Sachs and Yet-Ming Chiang. It has raised around $100 million in VC funding from investors like Google Ventures, BMW, General Electric, New Enterprise Associates and Kleiner Perkins.

Go deeper

14 mins ago - World

South Africa says it's being "punished" for detecting new COVID variant

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly on September 22, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz - Pool/Getty Images)

South Africa said Saturday it's being "punished" for detecting the new Omicron coronavirus variant as more countries rush to enact travel bans and restrictions.

Driving the news: The U.S. imposed air travel restrictions from eight countries Friday in response to the Omicron variant. Countries in Europe and Asia have also implemented their own travel restrictions in response to Omicron.

Trump can't quit mainstream media

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are interviewed by Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" in September. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa issued a rebuttal on Friday to a statement by former President Donald Trump that misrepresented their reporting — and once again showed the 45th president's thin skin about mainstream media.

Driving the news: "Former President Trump said ... our book, 'Peril,' implied that he was planning to go to war with China," the statement begins. "[W]e report that Chairman of Joint Chiefs Mark Milley 'believed that Trump did not want a war' before or after the 2020 election."

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an announcement about a new plan transforming Penn Station on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly-identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.