Most of us have seen a 3D printer at work by now since they have been with us for a few years.
However, in most cases, they were the kind that built the model through plastic molding. 3D metal printers work under the same principle of melting and adding one layer over another, except that it burns metal powder instead of plastic.
Here is more on this manufacturing technology that has taken over the world.
What is a 3D Metal Printer?
A metal 3D printing machine uses the technique of additive manufacturing to produce metal structures by adding materials burnt by a laser, layer by layer. There are several additive manufacturing technologies for metals, with powder bed fusion (PBF) and directed energy deposition (DED) being the most popular ones.
In all cases, these machines use an energy source that serves to fuse or bond metal particles together, in order to create the structure that was first designed through software. Once the plans are uploaded into the machine, it handles the rest. Companies can acquire such tools through a professional 3d printing machine manufacturer.
How does Powder Bed Fusion Technology work?
Powder bed fusion (PBF) technology is an additive manufacturing process used for a PBF additive manufacturing project. It uses a laser or an electron beam in order to fuse powdered material together to create 3D structures. Since it is one of the most common, it is interesting to use it as an example of how 3D metal printing works.
First, the person in charge of the machine lays a thin coat of metal powder on a platform. The machine then starts melting it and fuses together the particles of the material, according to what the object needs to look like in the end. Once that layer is done, another one is prepared and the process starts again. It keeps going until the object is fully produced.
PBF technology can be used with various metals including titanium, aluminum, steel, and nickel alloys. This variety allows the creation of highly complex and customized parts that are difficult, if not impossible, to produce by using traditional manufacturing processes.
What are the Advantages of a 3D Metal Printing Machine in the Industry?
Today, designers have more freedom in the way that they create metal objects, thanks to 3D printing machines. That is because they are able to print much more complex shapes than other traditional manufacturing methods. And they can do so at a reduced cost, since there is no tooling involved in the process, nor to create the prototype and the final product.
A company can also decide to only produce one or very few pieces at a time, which would have been nearly impossible before, due to costs being related to quantity.
Using a 3D metal printer also reduces the production delay. The manufacturer can create as many prototypes as it needs, testing them right away, until they find themselves with a product that they consider of sufficient quality.
Once that is done, they can also start full production immediately, all with one single machine. We also need to mention that this technology ensures consistent quality and reduces waste, which makes it an environmentally friendly tool.