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Guide to metal 3d printing

Metal 3D Printing: Comprehensive Beginners Guide

Metal 3d printing is the next paradigm shift that is transforming manufacturing across multiple industries. This advancement offers several benefits that allow 3d printing companies to build high-performance products at a lower price. Be it automotive, manufacturing, or construction; metal additive manufacturing offers a wide range of applications.

The flexibility of creating complex geometries without compromising quality speeds up the turnaround time. Lately, drastic progress has been made in this technology and 3d printers that have made it more practical and robust. In this guide, let's explore metal 3d printing technology in detail.

Metal 3D Printing Technologies

There are a variety of metal 3d printing technologies available to accomplish multiple jobs. Every method has both pros and cons that lets manufacturers pick the suitable way for their product requirements. Below are the popular metal printing technologies that you need to know:

SLM (Selective Laser Melting)

The selective Laser Melting (SLM) 3d printing technology is widely used for creating 3d printed metal alloys. In this process, the metal is sintered using a powerful laser in a layer-by-layer manner, following the instructions of the 3D CAD model. In SLM, the metal filament powder is completely melted throughout the process.

This technology uses inert gases like nitrogen and argon for the sintering process. Selective Laser Melting is an ideal technology for pure metals like aluminium, and it can produce durable metal parts. SLM does not need excessive support structures for small angles and hangovers. After the manufacturing is completed, the support structures are detached from the main component.

DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering)

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Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is a robust and widely used metal additive manufacturing process with many similarities with the SLM method. In the DMLS process, the machine sinters the powdered material following the instructions of the CAD file. However, the main difference is that DMLS does not melt the metal powder fully. Due to this difference, the filament does not arrive at a high temperature and the cooling time is lower in this process.

The most significant benefit of DMLS is that it's more convenient for producing 3d printed components. As a result, DMLS-printed items are commonly used in automotive, aerospace, and more.

Powder bed fusion

It's among the widely-employed metal 3d printing process that is scalable, robust and offers consistent production. In powder bed fusion technologies, the 3d printer distributes the layers of powder metal evenly on the printing bed. The electron beam or the layer then selectively fuses the metal particles.

There are primarily two categories of powder bed fusion technology. First is selective laser melting (SLM) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). In addition, the second category is electron beam melting or EBM.

Direct energy deposition

In the DED process, a 3D printer works by melting the metal filament using a powerful laser, and it's deposited on the build platform via a nozzle. As a result, direct energy deposition printers have a higher material deposition throughput, and they can work in both wire and powder form. In addition, the DED method can create heavier and intricate parts with top-notch accuracy.

DED metal printing technology is ideal for repairing heavy industrial equipment and machinery. For example, companies can quickly repair parts like turbine blades, a motor's internal equipment, or injection moulding's inserts.

Metal binder jetting

This printing technology is a cost-optimized method that is similar to conventional ink printing on paper. The metal 3d printer uses a printing head that moves over the build platform. The print head deposited the binding agent's droplets onto the metal powder layers. In this process, the 3d printer fuses the metal particles to create a physical component.

For making the printing process faster, many printers support the use of multiple printing heads. However, the components built have limited mechanical properties due to their printing method, and the surface is also porous. It happens because the binder gets burned out during the manufacturing process. Due to this, metal binder jetting parts need to undergo significant post-processing. Some widely-used post-processing steps include bronze infiltration, curing, and porosity reduction.

Ultrasonic sheet lamination

It is a hybrid metal 3d printing technology that operates at a lower temperature. This technology works by welding together thin metallic foils using ultrasonic vibrations under pressure. After the printing process is completed, engineers use the CNC milling method to chip off excessive material.

As the ultrasonic sheet lamination operates at a lower temperature, the machines don't melt the metal. This technology can also fuse different metal types to achieve the desired properties. The fundamental advantage of using ultrasonic sheet lamination is its low cost and faster turnaround time. In addition, manufacturers can also build parts with embedded electronic sensors. Therefore, it's ideal for printing metal-based electronic components.

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Benefits of metal 3d printing melbourne

Benefits of Metal 3D Printing

There are several transforming benefits of metal additive manufacturing that allow companies to gain an edge compared to the conventional methods. Some key benefits of metal 3d printing are:

  • It can handle complex geometrical compositions at a lower cost
  • Ideal for creating light-weight and durable components
  • Metal 3d printing helps companies improve component's functionalities
  • Superior mechanical properties to withstand several extreme conditions
  • It's easier to merge multiple assemblies into a single part

Applications of Metal 3D Printing

  • Functional Metal Prototypes
  • Low-volume bespoke industrial parts
  • Surgical and dental implants
  • Repairing a variety of machinery
  • Creating mechanical spare parts

Key Design Consideration in Metal 3D Printing

There are a few design and manufacturing considerations that you need to keep in mind while working with metal 3d printers:

Define the basic requirements

For making the complete process seamless, it's better to design the design requirements early. You can define boundary conditions, part weight, and loads early to avoid design complexity. It will help you achieve more flexibility rather than using preconceived parameters.

Use support structures

Always have a clear idea about how the part will be oriented in the 3D printer. It is because the printing orientations are critical to defining positions and support structure requirements. For reducing the overall cost, it's always better to create parts with minimum support structures.

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Metal 3D Printing Materials

With the growing demand for this technology, material choices are also surging rapidly. Some popular metal materials are:

  • Aluminium alloys
  • Cobalt-chrome alloys
  • Copper-based alloys
  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium alloys
  • Nickel-based superalloys
  • Precious metal alloys like gold, silver & platinum

Geometric Complexity

Compared to other 3d printing technologies, this technology can handle highly complex geometries. So, while upgrading from technologies like FDM or SLS, keep in mind that you can always pay more focus on intricate detailing.

Final Thoughts

Metal 3d printing is a powerful way to revolutionize the conventional manufacturing process. Companies can achieve higher agility, cost-efficiency, and design flexibility with this technology. With growing demands, several companies now offer full-fledged metal 3d printing in Melbourne, Brisbane and other places to help companies get a head start.

Metal 3D Printing Services

Industries and Applications

The following industries are the most ardent users of AM technologies in their businesses.

3D-Printing-Automotive-Industry

Automotive

Lightweight aerodynamics parts are desirable in the automobile industry. This contributes to making cars more energy efficient. 3D printing in the automotive industry is used both for rapid prototyping services as well as for some end parts creation.

Manufacturing

The precision and accuracy of 3D print processes are helping the manufacturing industry reduce material wastage, save time, money, and efforts.

R&D

Rapid prototyping has become a crucial component used in R&D departments of leading businesses. It helps save time and money for the manufacturers.

Medical and Healthcare

This is one of the most promising sectors for applications of 3D printing. Some of the applications include prototyping for product development to creating actual patient solutions, such as dental crowns, prosthetics, implants, human tissues, and organs, as well as 3D printed surgical instruments.

Architecture

3D architectural models enable businesses to showcase accurate details of projects. Architects also have greater design flexibility when they use 3D CAD models.

Jewellery

Lightweight aerodynamics parts are desirable in the automobile industry. This contributes to making cars more energy efficient. 3D printing in the automotive industry is used both for rapid prototyping services as well as for some end parts creation.

Aerospace/Defence/Navy

This industry was one of the earliest adopters of additive manufacturing. Rapid prototyping has become a critical component in the development of replacement and end parts in this industry.

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