Metal 3D printing|filament, Advantages and Limitation

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Metal 3D Printing technology is known as the holy grail of the 3d printing industry. know about metal filament, Advantages and Advantages and Limitation.

There’s one 3d printing technology that’s used in Formula one cars, Boeing Skyliners and even people walking around today, this technology is known as the holy grail of the 3d printing industry.

It can produce strong functional parts from exotic materials like titanium or stainless steel, and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment are pouring into this industry, to make the technology more accessible and more cost-effective.

Metal 3D printing|filament, Advantages and Limitation

I did write a post a few days ago about the What Is 3D Printing?FDM 3D Printing TechnologyTop 3 3D Printing Materials and if you haven’t read that, it’ll give you good info about the 3D printing.    

What is Metal 3D printing  

Metal 3d printers use a laser to scan and selectively fuse or melt metal powder particles, bonding them together and slowly building up apart, one layer at a time. They’re most commonly used in industrial applications, like high-end complex engineering products.

The two most common methods of metal 3d printing are SLM (selective laser melting), and DMLS (direct laser metal sintering), and both of these technologies belong to the powder bed fusion category.

As SLM and DMLS both similarly produce parts and the end parts are compatible, to save us both some trouble. Several other 3d printing technologies can also produce metal parts. Two that are rapidly rising at the moment are binder jetting and metal FDM printing.

Metal 3D printing|filament, Advantages and Limitation

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How Metal 3D Printers Works  

This is the key steps that a metal printer follows to produce parts

  1. Firstly, the build chamber is filled up with an inert gas
  2. after this the build chamber and the powder are preheated to optimal printing temperature.
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  4. A thin layer of metal powder is then spread over the build platform and a high-power laser scans the cross-section of the component, melting or fusing the metal particles, and creating the first layer of the 3dprinted part.
  5. Finally, when the scanning of the first layer is complete, the build platform moves down the one-layer height and the recoating blade spreads a fresh layer of powder over the previously printed layer. This process is repeated over and over again, building the part up one layer at a time.

The printing process for metal 3d printing is very similar to SLS and like SLS, at the end of printing the parts are fully encased in powder, but there’s one key difference: metal 3dprinting always requires support structures but Something SLS doesn’t need.

Advantages of metal 3D printing

One of the biggest strengths of metal 3dprinting is design freedom. You can now print parts that were previously impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing techniques. Two particular areas where metal 3d printing is having a large impact on design freedom are part consolidation. Two particular areas where metal 3d printing is having a large impact on design freedom are part consolidation.Taking a 100 parts and metal printing them to be just a single piece, and the production of parts with integrated lattice or porous structures, particularly useful in the medical industry or areas where the strength to weight ratio is very important.

Metal 3D printing|filament, Advantages and Limitation

one of the big advantages of metal 3d printing is metal. Metal has several superior properties compared to plastics. And another advantage is that metal 3d printing can produce parts out of titanium and other advanced alloys.

Limitation and cost of Metal 3D Printing

Compared to traditional manufacturing technologies like CNC machining, the cost of metal 3d printing is high. On average a metal printed part, around the size of your fist, will cost about a thousand dollars to print and finish, with prices rapidly increasing depending on the geometry.

In simple terms metal 3d printing is only justified if you’re going to see a big improvement in performance. Another limitation of metal 3d printing is the build size. The maximum build size for most metal 3d printers is only 200 millimetres, you should keep this in mind when you’re designing your parts.

Metal printed parts are never ready to use straight off the build platform.

Metal 3D printing|filament, Advantages and Limitation

Post Processing for metal 3D Printing  

Every metal 3d printed part requires some form of post-processing, be it powder removal heat treatment or post-machining, and all of this adds to the cost and lead time of production.


Designing of metal 3D printing

When it comes time to start actually designing your parts there are a few things you should keep in mind. Metal 3d printing is the most difficult 3d printing technology to design parts for Just like CNC has undercuts and injection moulding has draft angles. there are a set of rules that must be followed to ensure your parts print accurately and successfully.

Support structures in metal 3d printing serve 3 different functions.

  1. it offers a platform for new layers of the print to be built upon, similar to FDM and SLA.
  2. Because of the temperatures involved metal 3d printing is particularly prone to distortion and warping. To anchor the parts to the bill plate and to help combat warping we use support structures.
  3. they act as a heat sink, drawing heat away from the part and allowing it to cool more uniformly. Because of the high dependence on support material part orientation is critical. When designing for metal 3d printing the main goal should always be to reduce the dependence on support materials as this adds cost and time.

As a rule of thumb, any overhanging angles should not surpass 45 degrees. Metal printing allows you as a designer to produce parts that include lattice structures. These structures are fantastic for maximizing the surface area in a heat exchanger or improving the strength to weight ratio of a part.

Other new CAD techniques like topology optimization and generative design are also perfect to utilize with metal 3d printing.One important thing to keep in mind is whether all parts of your design actually need to be metal 3d printed. Often, it’s better to choose a traditional manufacturing technology like CNC for some of the more basic sections and then use 3d printing for the complex parts, assembling these all together at the end. This can save a lot on the overall costs of your design.

As I mentioned earlier there are several other printing technologies that are becoming popular alternatives for producing metal parts, that are not DMLs or SLM. Metal binder jetting is one such example. Its a unique way of producing parts makes it perfect for low to mid-volume production runs.

Binder jetting builds parts by depositing a binding agent onto a thin layer of powder through inkjet nozzles and slowly builds the part up one layer at a time.

The result of the printing process is a weak path that’s held together only by the binding agent. To achieve a strong metal part, we need to take the print and put it into an oven to burn out the binding agent, the parts are then removed from the oven and then cantered to fuse the metal powder together, resulting in a strong cohesive component.

Metal extrusion, like the Metal X printer from mark forged, is a great low-cost 3d printing metal alternative Like FDM. metal extrusion builds a part up layer by layer by extruding material through a nozzle.

unlike traditional, if the aim though, the filament is impregnated with metal powder, after printing the part is placed in an oven and the polymer and the filament is burnt out and we’re left with a metal powder part. this is then scented to achieve a strong robust component.

binder jetting and material extrusion are often cheaper than traditional metal printing technologies and they offer more design freedom but it’s important to keep in mind they require a significant amount of post-processing and this can add lead time and cost.


metal 3d printing is an industrial process, best suited for complex high-performance parts. it offers a lot of design freedom over traditional manufacturing techniques and you get all the benefit of your parts being made of metal. however, costs are high, billed volumes are small, and parts require a lot of post-processing. it’s also important to keep in mind design is difficult and there’s a large dependence on support structures to ensure you get a good print. we’ve only just scratched the surface of this awesome but highly complex 3d printing technology.