Small metal injection molded (MIM) parts are common in firearms, but the decades-old process for lower-pressure components may be short-lived if the latest figures from 3DEO are any indication. The Los Angeles-based company, which specializes in high-volume metal 3D printing technology, experienced 600-percent growth in revenue from 2019 to 2020, with orders increasing 394 percent during the same period and staff increasing by 172 percent to meet that demand. It now has 25 engineers working on research and development.
3DEO is barely four years old, and although its products are usually taken for granted by most enthusiasts, firearm manufactures have taken note. MIM requires molds, which are costly and time consuming to change. The company’s Intelligent Layering Technology allows 3D prints to change overnight, while holding tighter tolerances and yielding better-quality components.
Shooting Illustratedinterviewed 3DEO President Matt Sand last summer and he explained his company’s huge investment in machines and programming, making it obvious the process is no DIY affair. The hardware is expensive and it’s not simple computer-aided drafting software at work. Without the stratospheric budget of the Defense Department or aerospace industry, producing anything except small parts is impossible, too.
Despite the limitations, the company has caught the eye of gun companies. “We're doing things in manufacturing that previously couldn’t be done,” Matt Petros, 3DEO’s CEO, said. “And we're doing it by leveraging several enabling technologies that are converging right now in manufacturing—in a way that finally allows metal 3D printing to shift the serial production paradigm.”
This month the company reached a big milestone by producing its 150,000th part. “It validates our patented technology, our unique business model and our mission to break metal additive manufacturing into high-volume production,” Sand said. “Today, we routinely win bids against traditional manufacturing because of our competitive cost structure and material performance.”
Although 3DEO is producing triggers, bolt releases and other components for gun companies (that Sand was not at liberty to divulge), the company also manufactures a variety of other 3D metal products for other industries.