Iro3D made quite a splash a few months ago when they announced their $5,000 metal 3D printer. While $5,000 might seem quite hefty, it’s very cheap for a metal printer. Now, Iro3D just announced that they’ve already shipped out quite a few of their new machines. With a move towards international shipping, the company’s SPD metal technology has just made its first foray onto the global stage.
The company has also clarified certain specifications for the printer and the SPD metal printing process. It has a build volume of 300 x 300 x 100 mm and support powders cost $5 per pound. Printable materials are: high-carbon steel, copper-iron, copper-nickel, mild steel, copper-silver, copper-gold, silver-gold, gold-nickel and silver-nickel.
Selective Powder Deposition Technology
As we reported previously: the printer uses a multi-step process requiring the production of a crucible from sand and metal powders. Users have to then process this crucible into the eventual product. It boasts a 0.3mm layer resolution and has a 1mm pourer.
There is about 2% shape distortion when baked in a stainless steel crucible, due to the horizontal thermal expansion crucibles undergo. Although, users can mitigate this with ceramic crucibles.
In regards to post-processing, Iro3D states that “after filling the crucible with the powders, you would need to bake it in a kiln. For high-carbon steel the temperature is 1250°C, hold time is 3 hours. For copper-iron and copper-nickel the temperature is 1184°C, hold time is 2 hours.” Inside the kiln, the filler metal melts and the metal powder absorbs it due to capillary action.
The capillary action creates adhesive force to overpower the cohesive force and create an attraction between liquid metal particles and powder metal. Consequently, the liquid metal fills up the gaps between the powdered particles brings those particles up to the same temperature to form a kind of eutectic alloy. This is one of the reasons sand it used, since it’s so dissimilar to metal powder it can’t undergo capillary action.
One of the downsides is that the the process can be quite a bit slow. It also requires the kiln which can cost quite a bit (completely new can be one for $1,000). Iro3D also do not sell their own consumables and materials for printing, which users can acquire from 3rd parties.
Featured image courtesy of Iro3D.