Category Archives: Metal

3d printing for metal: Overview for metal materials you can make with a 3d printer

The Golden Age of 3D Metal Printing: 75.8 % Growth

Metal printing currently seems to be having its golden years, so say brand new figures. A new report by research consultancy Wohlers Associates concludes metallic printing has had a growth of 75.8 percent in 2013 compared to its 2012 figures. As many as 348 3D metal printers were sold last year, while 2012 only saw 198 metal printers sold.

Metal printers won’t soon enter the average living room, as they are much too expensive for individuals to buy. These printers can easily costs tens of thousands of dollars, and are being used by big companies for professional purposes. Taking this high price into account will surely shine a different light upon the 348 metal printers that were sold in 2013. Despite the fact it’s only a small market today (or maybe: due to the fact), owning a metal printer is quite an expensive hobby to have and so there is a lot of money in this market.

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UK Fighter Jets Fly With 3D Printed Parts For the First Time

For the first time, UK fighter jets have been flying whilst using 3D printed parts. The reason why 3D printed parts for fighter jets are so useful is that they have the ability to cut costs over £1.2 million over the next four years.

Therefore, on Sunday defense company BAE Systems has brought the news that Tornado fighter jets with 3D printed metallic parts have made a successful test flight at the airfield of the defense firm at Warton, England. This test flight took place in December last year. Some parts made by 3D printing techniques costed less than £100 to produce.

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3D Printing With Liquid Metal – Breakthrough For Stretchable Electronics

3d printed liquid metalAt the North Carolina State University, Michael Dikey and his team used a mixture of gallium and indium alloy, this is a mixture which remains liquid at room temperature. But when it comes into contact with air, it develops a thin skin that is strong enough to hold the liquid’s shape. When printed, the shapes can be stretched without reverting to blobs. This technology could be used for micro-circuits and wearable electronics.

Dr Dikey said: “It’s an additive manufacturing technique, so you’re basically directly printing the material in 3D space. The resulting structures are soft, and if you embed them in, say, rubber, for example, you can create structures that are deformable and stretchable.”

Jason Heikenfeld, who is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Cincinnati said this work is potentially revolutionary. “Folks have tried to work with liquid metal for some time – some of us when we were younger would break up a thermometer and you’d see liquid metal – mercury – go all over the place. It was evidence that although these materials have a significant upside, in terms of what you can do with them, they are extremely challenging to work with.”

And now we are in an age where flexible electronics are starting to emerge, companies like LG, Samsung and Nokia are experimenting with all kinds of possibilities. This mixture that can be applied with additive manufacturing techniques might well be a big step towards realizing this.

Professor Heikenfeld said: “Stretchable is a whole other game because you’re now talking about wearable and conformable,”. He also mentioned that recent research addressed another important problem with liquid metals, toxicity. The gallium and indium alloy mix is safe, unlike mercury.
He added that the recent research also addressed another important issue of using liquid metals – toxicity. Unlike mercury, the gallium and indium alloy was safe, he said.

This mixture doesn’t come cheap though… According to New Scientist, it will be about a hundred times as expensive as 3d printed plastic.

Daimler invests in large-scale 3D printer for metal printing

We’ve told you how Lamborgini is using 3D printing technology in their design process to make the Aventador lighter and faster. Now German automaker Daimler AG has funded a research partnership between the Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Technology and the German company Concept Laser. The result is the X line 1000R 3D printer with a build volume of 630mm x 400mm x 500mm (23.6 inches x 15.7 inches x 19.7 inches). The new machine was introduced at Euromold 2012.


The machine was developed to aid in the production of complex metal parts that are traditionally made using a time- and money-intensive sand casting process.

Layer thickness

The X line 1000R 3D printer has a layer thickness of 20 to 100 microns. Ponoko’s blog states about the layer thickness: ‘This would be a significant achievement for a plastic or resin printer, but it’s remarkable considering that this is a laser sintering printer for fusing powdered metal’. Long story short, this machine seems to be a big step forward in metal printing. We’ll be watching it closely.

3D printing stainless steel in High Definition

The Belgian 3D printing company has a new and very exciting service to offer. Printing in high detailed stainless steel. They call it HS.

I.Materialise has been testing the materials for a few weeks now and the results are pretty amazing. You can situate the material between silver and titanium. The prints are about as strong as titanium but more shiny and less expensive. When compared with silver its less shiny but stronger.

Before launching this new material it has even been tested on rust. They put some printed designs in a bath with salt and no marks of rust were visible.


Print specifications

When you send in your design you need to make sure it doesn’t exceed the bounding box. The model can have 40x40x35 mm as a max and need to be at least 3x3x3 mm (these are still testing measurements and can be adjusted after more print experience). Details go from 0.3 mm and the wall thickness goes from 1.0 mm.



  • A model of 10 x 10 x 10 mm will cost you €18,2  (excl. VAT)
  • A ring of 23 x 23 x 5 mm will cost you €35,31 (excl. VAT)
  • The Aislin figure below of 15 x 15 x 35 mm will cost you 89,7€ (excl. VAT)


Source: i.Materialise

Revolutionary new metal 3D printer, prints your metal 7X faster

ExOne, a pioneering company in the evolution of nontraditional manufacturing, released their newest metal 3D printer this week at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. It is called the M-FLEX and it is revolutionary!

This printer has been designed to work primarily with metal, but is also capable of buiding objects in glass, ceramics and other materials used for casting. What makes this 3D printer even more special is the Digital Part Materialization process it uses. This process, developed by ExOne, builds objects by treating a powdered material with a bonding agent from a print head. The object is then placed into a furnace for sintering,which burns out the binder and fuses the molecules into a solid part.

This process gives the M-FLEX printer more than SEVEN times the volume output of additive manufacturing machines currently in use!

The M-FLEX has a build envelope of 15.7 x 9.8 x 9.8 in. (400 x 250 x 250 mm) with a build speed of 30 seconds per layer (compared to competition build speeds of approximately one-and-a-half minutes per layer) It offers a print resolution of 0.0635 mm (X/Y), 0.100 mm (Z).

“We’ve made tremendous strides in 3D printing in the last decade and what our machines can do today is simply remarkable. We are printing engine castings for helicopters and replacing broken pumps in oil fields in days – not months,” said Dave Burns, president of ExOne. “

If you’re interested in the Digital Part Materialization process the M-FLEX printer uses, watch this video that guides you through it:


Want to give your 3D printed object a golden look?

That 3D printing golden objects is possible might not be news to everybody. But what’s less known is that 3D printing gold doesn’t follow the typical 3D printing process. There is no extruder printing the molten gold into a design. Instead, the 3D design is inversely printed into a wax mold. Then the molten 14 carat gold is poured into this mold and voilá you have your object in gold. This technique brings some restrictions though. For instance you cannot print bearings or ”ball within ball” objects. Also, gold is not your cheapest material so if you want to print a solid golden object you have to lay down some serious cash.

i.Materialise gold plating

To tackle both these ‘problems’ i.Materialise came up with a great solution. Two days ago they introduced a new finishing process for stainless steel designs: Gold Plated Stainless Steel. And it looks great!

This is a finishing procedure where i.Materialise take your stainless steel model and dip it in a gold bath giving it a gold plated look. They can offer the objects in a polished or unpolished gold plating.

What is maybe the most interesting part is that this gold plating will only cost you an extra $6 USD over the stainless steel pricing of your object (which is $35 USD for an up to 5 cm³ model volume, plus $8 USD per each extra cm³) .

Wanna try it out?

If this caught your attention and you want to try it out, you can have i.Materialise send you a sample for $15 USD!

3D Printing Metal

The technologies of 3D printing are getting more and more fascinating. Today we look at metal-related 3D Printing.  The type of materials used in metal 3D Printing are increasing everyday. The inputmaterials that can be used in 3D printing have grown from Metals, to Stainless Steel, Titanium and for example Aluminium.

Suppliers 3D Metal Printers

Several companies have been making 3D printers for metals for some years now, from the pioneering 3D Systems in South Carolina, to leading US firm Stratasys in Minneapolis. They are reaching broad client bases — think aerospace to academe. And two European companies — EOS of Germany and Arcam of Sweden — are at the forefront of building machines that print metal end-use products, and not just prototypes, which used to be the majority of 3D-printed results.

Arcam started with the Electron Beam Melting, or EBM. During the EBM process, the electron beam melts metal powder in a layer-by-layer process to build the physical part. The Arcam EBM machines use a powder bed configuration and are capable of producing multiple parts in the same build. Arcam has two main metal-sintering machine systems (the A1 for smaller applications, and the A2 for larger ones, such as airplane parts) that make use of fusing metal powders together with an electron-beam melter.

EOS rolled out their flagship EOSINT M 280 system that came out a couple years ago to replace its 270 model, which was already a market leader in metal additive manufacturing. Both EOS and Stratasys, which uses primarily employ plastic-deposition technology, use their own machines to print parts that are, in turn, used to build more printers.

According to several reports, it is clear that European design and manufacturing firms are more advanced at both creating and utilizing additive technologies than their US counterparts (especially in the medical and dental arenas). And firms such as Boeing, Airbus, and even NASA are already using systems from the likes of EOS and Arcam.

Metal Materials in 3 D Printing

As written in the introduction, the range of metals suitable for 3D Printing keep growing every month.

MaragingSteel for example is used for series tooling. The EOS MaragingSteel MS1 for example is a martensite-hardenable steel. Its chemical composition corresponds to US classification 18% Ni Maraging 300, European 1.2709 and German X3NiCoMoTi 18-9-5. This kind of steel is characterized by having excellent strength combined with high toughness. The parts are easily machinable after the building process and can be easily post-hardened to more then 50 HRC. They also have excellent polishability.

Those kinds of steel are used for products in serie injection moulding and other tooling applications, e.g. aluminium die casting

Titanium is increasingly used. This well-known light alloy is characterized by having ex-cellent mechanical properties and corrosion resistance combined with low specific weight and biocompatibility.  This makes it very suitable for Biomedical implants

Products in  Metal 3D Printing

Medical products

With more and more metal materials that can be used in the 3D printer, the range of products that can be manufactured keep growing as well. 3D printing is used in the medical industry for the creation of surgical and diagnostic aids, the development of prosthetics and medical products, tissue engineering, and the design of medical tools and equipment. So more and more medical products can be made. A customized knee implant for example….

Knee cap titanium 3d

The above knee implant was built by Direct Metal Laser-Sintering (DMLS®) using a bio-compatible Cobalt-Chrome alloy. Several such parts can be built fully automatically overnight, even patient-specific, by Stryker Orthopaedics. Source: EOS

3D printing technology probably is one of the most effective means of physically realising medical models. 3D imaging technology used in the medical field (for instance CT data) is today commonly used with CAD / CAM technology to assist surgeons with customised solutions. Because of the complexity of CT data, the automated production provided by 3D printing technology makes it an excellent choice for generating models based on actual patient data.

3d Printed Automotive products

Automotive industry is a leading user and consumes 17.5% of total commercial 3D printing services,  second to consumer products/electronics. Present application by auto companies is limited to large size 3D printers for rapid prototyping in Product Development. However, with dropping prices (personal 3D printers costing around few thousand dollars) and maturing ecosystem (Machine builders, CAD S/W providers, Designers, Makers, Aggregators & users), 3D printing is poised to become more mainstream.

Objet Ltd.,  showcased a full-size, 3D printed car dashboard from StreetScooter at this year’s SolidWorks World in San Diego from February 12-15.   Shown for the first time in the United States, the five-foot wide fully-assembled dashboard prototype was created with multi-material printing, including Objet’s ABS-like Digital Material, and features a display screen and other fine details that simulate a dashboard’s look, feel and function.

3d Print your bike

We already wrote on 3d Printing your bike. Here you can see the prove that metal 3d printing is resulting in your own bike!