So how does 3D printing with metal work? The basic construction process for both Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) are almost the same. They both create layers by melting the metal molecules together as it builds each layer. The only difference between the two processes is the amount of heat, and therefore energy, each process consumes. SLM will heat the metal to a liquid state whereas DMLS does not.
How does Metal 3D Printing work? The basic fabrication process for SLM and DMLS are very similar. … A thin layer of metal powder is spread over the build platform and a high power laser scans the cross-section of the component, melting (or fusing) the metal particles together and creating the next layer.
How does 3D printing work with Metal, this new technology has a unique position in today’s product development. It enables direct production of complex end products and facilitates conventional manufacturing technology, reducing costs and lead times.
There are several types of metal 3D printing and each technique has advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common techniques in metal 3D printing.
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SLM uses lasers to melt a fine-grained metal powder. SLM is similar to Direct Metal Laser Sintering as both methods use lasers to arrange a wide range of alloys.
Selective Laser Sintering SLS (Powder Bed Based)
SLS, which is most commonly used for plastic, can also be used for certain types of metals. SLS and SLM are also known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM). The difference lies in which materials they can use. SLS shows a much larger range of material powder that it can work with and it can achieve varying density levels when creating structures. Another difference is that SLS requires that the elements be completely melted. The largest companies in SLS and SLM are 3D Systems and EOS.
Robocasting is used to manufacture models in the ceramic material, rivets, metals and composites and prints the material with a nozzle. The end products are very strong and the method is very effective. “Robocasting Enterprises LLC” is the main company active in this area.
Cold Spray Metal Printing
This is one of the fastest ways to print metal. Cold Spray Metal Printing is a way to shoot particles on a surface to build up a physical object. It was originally used by NASA to build metal objects in space.
The LightSpee3d 3D printer is currently the fastest metal printer. It has the potential to also reduce production costs. Manufacturers have talked about how it is cheaper than the most popular forms of metal printing. Similarly, in some cases, it may significantly reduce production time. It is also a mass production method. It is one of the most promising forms of metal 3D printing on the market.
Binder Jetting | Inkjet 3D Printing
Binder Jetting was originally developed on MIT and uses powder just like SLS. But instead of laser technology, binders are used. The process is performed layer by layer until it creates a 3D model. This form of metal 3D printing is used by ExOne, among others. This type of print leaves a lot of powder residue after processing, but fortunately, it can be reused easily. One of its biggest advantages is how quickly it generates models. One of the innovations made by wirejetting was the ability to use 2 materials in a single print.
This system is mainly created by Vader Systems. The method uses a metal color that is sprayed down and magnetized to produce very fast and precise shapes. It is used by Lockheed-Martin in aeronautics.
Directed Energy Deposit
DED includes several methods: “Laser engineered net shaping”, “directed light fabrication”, “direct metal deposit” and “3D laser cladding”. A material or wire is heated with a laser on top of an existing object and soldering the object. It provides a very high ability to control the structure of the grain, making it ideal for intricate repair work. Compared to other methods, very few materials are available for use in DED which can make it a disadvantage.
LENS is a laser-based metal 3D printing technique that uses powder to create the structure. Like many other laser-based metal 3D printing methods, LENS requires a highly controlled environment. The process requires a hermetically sealed chamber, which is usually cleared of oxygen using argon. This keeps the level of oxidation as low as possible.
LENS lasers can range from 500W to 4000W. The process has been used to process titanium, stainless steel, and Inconel. Despite the difficulties in maintaining an oxygen-free chamber, LENS users allow some accuracy and control that few other manufacturing methods can. After the LENS process is complete, parts must still be reprocessed separately.
Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication
Originally developed by NASA ten years ago, EBFE is a method used primarily in aeronautics. This method can create complex geometric shapes without any material waste. It was a metal 3D printing method that was intended to be used for space rocket manufacturing due to its ability to create light shapes that reduce fuel consumption. As the name suggests, it uses electron rays to solidify a melting wire. This is an excellent method of converting almost liquid metals into new forms.
Electron Beam Melting EBM
Arcam’s EBM machines utilize a powerful electron beam that generates the energy needed for high melting capacity and high productivity. The electron beam is controlled by electromagnetic coils that provide extremely fast and accurate radiation control that allows several melting points to be maintained at the same time.
The Arcam EBM process takes place in a vacuum and at high temperatures, resulting in voltage-related components with material properties better than cast materials.
Laser Metal Deposit
LMD is in many ways similar to melting and sintering technology. The printer deposits powder and uses lasers to heat the powder on a platform. The difference appears on closer examination. For example, this method uses a constant powder stream that was melted. It uses double streams of powder and gas flows in the process.
Materials such as iron, cobalt-based, nickel-based alloys, tungsten carbide, and other metal powder-coated metal can be used.
moving light Metal DLP Printing
Metal DLP printing is a fairly new technology. Prodways is one of the most famous companies leading using MOVINGLight technology. The technique uses UV hardening on metal powder that has a binder around it. One of the machines that use this is the V6000 printer of Prodways.
moving light is an incredibly fast technology. It can produce structures very quickly. One of the things that hold the technology back, however, is that the materials are very difficult to produce. It requires the combination of several elements with the organic binder.
Ultrasonic Particle Manipulation
UPM is also a relatively new method that can work with metals but also a variety of other materials. With UPM you can make complex models and you can mix different materials in one print.
UPM uses sounds to manipulate different particles. Another thing that makes it unique as a method is that it does not require any contact with the material itself. The sound makes particle casings over the machine floor and it takes the desired shape. This method is still in the test phase, but it can be a so-called game-changer for the metal 3D printing industry.
When looking for affordable prices, stainless steel tends to be one of the cheapest and strongest metals for 3D printing.
This is also a versatile metal that is used among many art and design projects but also in industrial contexts.
This metal is almost exclusively among industrial projects because it contains nickel and cobalt which gives it elastic properties while still being difficult to break.
One of the most widely used materials for metal printing is titanium and then used usually either, Ti64 or TiAl4V. Titanium has a versatility that is a very good feature as it can print different types of strengths.
It is most used today in the medical industry to manufacture prostheses as well as in the automotive industry and aerospace industry for the manufacture of prototypes but also some end products.
It contains a very high specific strength, this metal alloy is mostly used to make dental implants, turbines, and orthopedic implants. These are all applications where 3D printing has become a popular manufacturing method.
Aluminum is very light and versatile, making it a popular metal to use for 3D printing. It is mainly used in aluminum-based alloys.
Copper and bronze
Mostly used in casting processes for wax. Copper and bronze are usually not used in powder-based techniques and are not so beneficial choices for industrial purposes.
They are used more frequently in arts and crafts.
Gold, silver and other precious metals
3D printing of precious metals is mainly used for medical, jewelry and electronics applications.
Uses for metal printing
3D printers working with metal usually have an industrial purpose and they have revolutionized many industries such as dental, jewelry and pharmaceutical industries.
Most 3D printers printing metal objects have so far been manufactured for larger companies. But more recently, so-called Desktop Metal 3D printers have started to appear at lower prices aimed at a broader consumer market.