With time, everything has evolved and the same can be said for Printing Services. Things that were not imaginable before have turned into reality. Technology is the main driving force behind it. In the past decade, there has been tremendous rise in the use of printers. Every brand wants to make a mark in the market and for that to be possible, there should be exclusivity. If you go out in the market, you will find that there are many different companies which boast of giving the best Printing Services and being a step ahead of them requires to be unique and special. But how can that be done? How is that possible when everybody is doing the same thing?
The answer is pretty simple – Don’t just be like others but come up with solutions in a better and more innovative manner. Relying on the old tactics won’t help your Printing Services. All you have to do is look for that aspect which will make you look different. The solution is here. You just have to embrace it. It is in the form of 3D Metal Printing. There is a lot of buzz going around in the market about 3D printing metals. How does that work? Where to start? The answer to all these and other questions are given below –
What is Metal 3D Printing?
Metal 3D printing is the latest technology incorporated by Printing Services in which the laser is used to manufacture parts by joining together different high performance lasers, layer by layer. It is preferred in corporate use as it leads to lower costs and lead times. Ideal applications of Metal 3D Printing include production tools, spare parts, rigid housing, fully functioning prototypes, heat exchangers and heatsinks. The lead time depends on part size, number of components etc. But usually is at least 10 working days. There are two types of processes used in metal printing – Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).
What is SLM and DMLS?
Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) belong to the same category of 3D printing. There are a lot of overlapping qualities in both of them. They take the assistance of laser and fuse the metal powder particles and develop a part layer-by-layer. The materials used in both of these processes are granular metals.
The main difference in both of them is of the particle bonding process. SLM works only in single melting temperature while melting the particles fully whereas in DMLS, the powder is composed of materials with different melting points and the melting temperature are not same.
What is the process in Metal 3D Printing?
Printing Services have a great interest in how exactly the process works. There is a common fabrication process for both SLM and DMLS. The process is facilitated by filling inert gases in the build chamber. Usually, argon is used. It is done to minimize metal powder’s oxidation. It is then heated to obtain optimal build temperature.
Then, a narrow layer of metal powder is laid over the build platform. High power laser is introduced to scan the cross section of the component. This results in fusing the metal particles together to form a new layer. As the whole area is subsequently scanned, new layer is fully built which is of real use in Printing Services.
After the completion of scanning process, the newly build layer is moved downwards by one layer and another narrow layer of metal powder is laid by the recoater. This process keeps on repeating until the whole part is completed.
What are the different methods for 3D Printing Metal
There are different methods used by Printing Services but the three most common ones are described below –
- Metal Binder jetting 3D Printing – Before the start of the process, there is need of a slick 3D design. In this process, metal powder is deposited or rolled on in thin layers. From the print head on top of each layer, a glue-like binding substance is ejected. This process works fine for color printing and gels with polymers and ceramic material. The process is quite swift but the post processing can take some time.
- Powder Bed Fusion -The difference between Powder Bed Fusion and Metal Binder Jetting is that a high temperature laser or electron beam is used. It fuses the layer by increasing the temperature of the areas where the output is desired. It is carried out by both the processes in Printing Services – SLM and DMLS.
- Directed Energy Deposition – In this process, two different types of material are used, namely metal wire and metal powder. Metal wire or metal powder is forced out from the nozzle which moves in different directions. Once it is set in place, laser or electronic beam is used ti melt it. Printing Services use this process for repairing but it can also be used to build things from scratch.
What are the characteristics of 3D Printing Metal?
Manufacturers play an important role in all the parameters of the machine. All of them come with their own set of characteristics. Printing Services are benefited by the following ones –
- Print Parameters – There are different parameters while printing. Layer height varies between 0 to 50 micrones. Accuracy comes with the guarantee of 0.1 mm. The metal used has high recycle value. Less than 5 percent of it is wasted. The unused powder is saved and used for another print.
- Support structure – Support structure plays an important part especially when a new layer is to be added on top. To maximize the part strength, they are often angled at different directions. Randomized scan patterns are used to minimize warping.
- Lightweight structures – As the support structures cannot be removed easily, large hollow sections are not used commonly. Therefore, lattice structure is uses by Printing Services. The parts are designed by skin and cores. Not only the print time and warping is reduced but also increases the stability.
These are the basic and common things that will give you a fair idea of what and how 3D Printing Metal works.