In our laboratory, we print on FDM 3D printers using material that forms fully functional metal parts after the final processing stage. The printing process consists of three steps, the first of which is the actual printing, then the part is treated in a solvent and finally, it goes into the furnace.
The first step is the actual printing of the part on the 3D printer with the selected printing material. The print head lays the material in thin layers in space according to the computer model to accurately create a physical replica of the model. The printing time depends on the size of the part, the height of the layers, which affects the quality of the small details and the number of support structures that are used to support overhanging parts of the model that would otherwise be impossible to print.
2. Washing out the binder
The material consists of metal particles and a binder that allows it to be pushed through the nozzle at elevated temperature and holds it together at room temperature. Before final sintering, however, the binder must be partially removed. The component is soaked for several hours, depending on the width of the thickest part, in a solvent which washes some of the binder out of the print material and prepares it for the final processing step.
The component is finally heated to a high temperature in a special furnace under protective gas, where the metal particles are fused into one piece. The shielding gas is a mixture of argon and hydrogen and is used to protect the component from oxygen, which reacts instantly with the metal at high temperatures. The temperature in the furnace reaches up to 1380°C and the component spends about 16 hours in the furnace.
A great advantage of our production process is the ability to process many parts from one order in steps 2 and 3 at the same time. Orders containing multiple parts, even with different shapes and sizes, but of the same material, can be processed in the same cost as a single one, allowing us to offer unbeatable prices for small batch production of metal part components
3D metal printing applications
- Fully functional prototypes
- Manufacturing tools
- Tools such as moulds or inserts
- Hard covers
- Spare parts
- Complex parts
What 3D metal printing offers
- Mechanical properties similar to those of cast parts
- Lightweight metal parts
- Shorter production cycles
- Economical and fast production of complex parts
- Compared to traditional approaches, a more affordable method
- Possibility of additional surface treatments as for castings or workpieces