Metal 3d printing is definitely possible and growing in accessibility.
Firstly, there are a number of great options. Secondly, and most importantly there are metal printers to match all budgets.
You don’t need a big budget as many believe to be the case. It really doesn’t have to be that expensive!
3D printer metal filaments
Above all, FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) eliminates airborne metal particles by containing the fine metal powder in the plastic filament making it a very safe method of printing metal for everyone.
Traditional machining and manufacture come at a great cost in time and money and require skilled operators. Metal 3D printing, Additive manufacture (AM) or 3D printing (3DP) has been bringing manufacturing to industry and education alike.
A fully functional and proven technology to print metal parts is available on our platforms.
The ‘real deal’ or just metal filled filament?
There are metal filaments (usually noticeably cheaper) available that are a mixture of metal powder and plastic, simply designed to look like metal. However that is where the comparison ends!
Unlike our filaments, these are really metal-like and simply don’t have the material properties of a metal. You might ask; Why does this matters? Well, it doesn’t if you only want your part to look like metal. If you want your part to behave like metal then it really does. An example where it matters is described below when ceramic and metals combine to create a single part.
3D printer metal filaments that are the real deal will need to go through debinding and sintering phase. This post processing is to rid the part of the plastic component so only the metal remains. You can learn more about this on our post processing page.
In conclusion, the future of FFF metal filament 3d printing is very exciting.
Undoubtedly there will be new capabilities and even more exciting developments in the future. Such a development will most likely arise with an increasing array of new and exotic material options.
This is certainly the case for ceramic materials too. In many situations a ceramic material may be easier to process and is likely to provide better material properties.
Ceramic and metals combined into a part
3D printer metal filaments and other materials combined into a part is an interesting area of development. Imagine having a tungsten path of material in a ceramic body that could conduct electricity. Such an application is of great interest and their are many more where combining materials like this would be advantageous.
3D Matters recently worked with Aston University to understand the complications of debinding and sintering multi-materials.
From this research project data showed trends that favoured the chances of co-sintering. Lower thermal conductivity materials had an increased chance of co-sintering.
It also showed that the metal inserts improve temperature distribution through the part and could reduce the sintering time but that this did not favour co-sintering.
Smaller shapes were better than larger shapes due to more concentrated heat flux per unit area. High heat rates were superior to lower heat rates for co-sintering. To learn more about co-sintering visit the Aston University project here
NeuBeam is another new comer. It is a very exciting technology that provide the following benefits;,
- increased flexibility
- better metallurgy
- and complete stability for industrial metal AM applications