Are you experimenting with 3D metal printing? Current industry trends say that 3D metal printing will overtake casting by 2020, according to Spotlight Metal, and it’s already being used for small batches of products and parts. If you’re on the forefront of this new manufacturing process or thinking about it, you’re probably interested in the current applications and future trends.
Benefits of 3D Metal Printing
The traditional manufacturing process for creating metal parts often involves using lots of energy and often have a significant amount of metal waste. In fact, in some industries, it’s estimated that only 10 percent of the metal is used to create the item. The rest is considered to be cut-away. Metal 3D printing, by contrast, uses less energy and has significantly less metal waste than other manufacturing processes.
- Can Create Pieces that Are Not Easily Cast
- Can Create Unique and Custom Pieces
- Continuously Being Researched and Developed
- Faster Process from Design to Finished Product
- Metal Products Are Manufactured with Uniform Consistency
- Nearly No Metal Waste, Which Can Improve Profitability
Current Applications of 3D Metal Printing
Metal printing is useful across most industries, including aeronautics, space, the high-tech industry, mechanics, construction, marine applications, energy services, drone manufacturing, the automotive industry, robotics, HVAC, plumbing, industrial goods and electronics. One of the reasons 3D printing is so useful in so many different industries is that it has the ability to create standard and custom parts, especially items like manifolds, custom pipes, especially for process piping applications, and parts for cars, boats and certain aviation applications.
Metal 3D printing is also good for reducing the number of welds needed for certain parts. This is because 3D printing uses powdered metal, like copper, lead, tin, aluminum, zinc, nickel and boron, that is formed in layers, according to the design schematics.
Types of 3D Metal Printing
There are two techniques used for 3D metal printing, including binder jetting and laser melting.
Binder jetting is considered to be faster and more efficient in terms of material costs than laser melting. This process involves spraying down a fine layer of metal powder then coating that powder with a binder, usually polymer-based. The process is repeated until the product is complete. Lastly, the excess metal powder is reclaimed so that it can be reused and the new part is removed from the machine. This process is best for manufacturing parts that are not susceptible to metal fatigue.
Laser melting utilizes lasers to fuse the metal powder together. During this process, metal powder is sprayed onto the floor of the printer. Then, a laser moves over the metal, causing it to melt and fuse together. Next, another layer of metal powder is sprayed down, and the laser is once again used to fuse the metal powder together. This process repeats until the entire part has been formed. This process is preferred when creating parts that may be subject to high levels of metal fatigue.
3D Metal Printing Alloys from Belmont Metals
Here at Belmont Metals, we can supply you with the powdered metal you need for your custom 3D metal printing process. We carry powdered cupric oxide, zinc, hydrogen reduced iron, cast iron, nickel, magnesium, aluminum, cadmium oxide, tin, copper and bismuth, and we can supply your metal powder in the quantities you need in order to satisfy your customer demands for standard and custom parts and metal products.
To learn more about our powdered metals or to place a bulk order, call us at 1-833-4-ALLOYS or visit our online store.