Guide to Metal 3D Printing Prototype Manufacturing
Metal 3D printing is becoming a common manufacturing process for most industries. Here is a guide into the process of metal 3d printing, some benefits and challenges, and its popular applications.
The Techniques of Metal 3D Printing Prototype
The metal 3D printer has the same working principle as other 3D printers. Basically, it builds parts by adding on a layer by layer, materials. This is after referencing from a CAD file or 3D design. The three common techniques used in metal 3D printing are DMLS/SLM, metal extrusion, and binder jetting.
SLM stands for Selective Laser Melting. It is an example of a rapid metal prototype manufacturing method. The metal 3D printing method melts and fuses metallic powder together with the help of a high power-density laser. It does this layer by layer, eventually forming a part. However, DMLS stands for Direct Metal Laser Sintering and bears some resemblance to SLM. The only difference is in the laser temperature. DMLS doesn’t fully melt the metal powder.
This process is relatively new to the additive prototype manufacturing industry. It bears some similarity to the FDM technique, which is also popular. First, we heat a filament, then extrude it through a nozzle depositing it layer by layer. The filament comprises metallic particles and a thermoplastic material. Finally, to make a fully functioning metal part, we need to subject it to post-processing. Methods such as sintering and deboning
This metal 3D printing process uses two materials. They are binders and powder-based materials. The binder functions in bonding the deposited powder-based material. Therefore, it behaves like glue between the layers of powder. However, it also needs a thermal post-processing process such as sintering to make it a full part. The process removes the binder.
How Does Metal 3D Printing Work?
The common fabrication used resembles that of SLM and DMLS. Here is a highlight of how metal 3D printing works. First, we fill the building chamber with an inert gas such as argon. It reduces the chances of oxidizing the metal powder allowing us to create parts at an optimal temperature. Next, we spread a thin layer of metal powder over the building platform. Then, a high powered laser scans the component’s cross-section. This melts and fuses the metal particles together, thus creating the next layer. We scan the whole area of the model to make a fully solid part. After completion of scanning, the platform moves down by one-layer thickness. Then we recoat out another thin layer of metal powder. We repeat the process to make the whole part.
The Benefits of Metal 3D Printing Prototype
Metal 3D printing offers some unique advantages in manufacturing and prototyping metal parts.
Enhanced Part Functionality
Metal 3D printing makes it possible to make internal structures in parts. This increases the overall performance of the parts made. For instance, we can make molds for injection molding that possess internal channels. This aids cooling thus lessening the number of injection cycles. Also, with the help of a metal extrusion technique, we can produce fixtures and jigs for complex geometric parts.
Great Material Properties
Parts made through the metal 3D printing techniques have great material strength. When compared to wrought metal, the printed parts are much better. Therefore, it makes the method ideal for the most demanding industries such as aerospace.
Geometrically Complex Designs
Metal 3D printing has extra-ordinary flexibility in design. It handles complex geometrics without issues. Surprisingly, this flexibility does not translate to higher costs. Therefore, you are able to get metal parts with complex geometries that would have been impossible to achieve with other processes.
What’re the Challenges of Metal 3D Printing?
Despite the great benefits of metal 3D printing, it does come with a few limitations it does that impact its prototyping capabilities.
Need for Post Processing
For one to get fully functioning parts, there is a need for some post-processing treatment. This is the case for all metal 3D printing techniques. Processes such as machining, polishing, and thermal treatment are examples. Thus, it adds to production costs and a prolonged delivery time.
Limited Mass Production Capabilities
Metal 3D printing can only produce efficient parts on a small scale. However, the industry is trying to figure out how to streamline 3D printing systems in producing more parts.
What are the Applications Industry?
Metal 3D printing has the remarkable ability to make organic-like structures. This makes it ideal for the medical industry. Medical implants from biocompatible materials, e.g. titanium comes from this process.
This industry has adopted the use of metal 3D printing to make high-performance parts. For instance, racing car parts need high impact resistance parts with great strength to weight ratio.
Metal 3D printing has great potential in serving this industry well. Aerospace parts demand lightweight parts that are geometrically complex. Therefore, the process is a great fit as it achieves these needs. Contact Creatingway now for your metal 3D printing services.
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