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 printing.com

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!

 

 

11 thoughts on “3D Printing Metal

  1. Very interesting article; it will be great to see DMLS blow past machine shops within the next decade or so. I just hope that 3D printing continues to get more coverage, it’s too underground for such an awesome technology! Also, you might want to mention inconel – a very strong, detailed, and high temperature resistant 3D printed metal. Cool article!

    Cheers,
    -Chris Waldo

  2. 3D printing and manufacturing is a great concept for future material application, however, it may not solve the requirement of material properties that are dependant on the slight variation of chemical composition and evolution of microstructures unless it is coupled with a spectrometer to study material composition of the specific component, a microscope to identify the type of microstructure and software that has data stored to identify the secondary treatment of the component to achieve the required properties.

  3. Do you think cavities for injection molds can be made with steel 3d printing? what hardness in RC can you get with the process ?

  4. Can anyone point me in the direction of where I can find some rough estimates on the costs of printing materials (e.g. plastics)?

    Thanks!

  5. 3D metal printing is extremely exciting; but my interest is what companies would be a good investment? Would EOS International or Stratasys be reasonably good investments? Thanks.

  6. You really make it appear really easy with your presentation however
    I in finding this topic to be actually something that I believe I
    might by no means understand. It sort of feels
    too complex and very extensive for me. I am taking a look ahead in your next post,
    I will attempt to get the grasp of it!

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