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Metall 3D Druck Fahrzeug-Bauteil
Important facts to consider for additive manufacturing of aluminium, stainless steel and more

In which cases is metal 3D printing worth it?

Additive manufacturing has advantages for metals compared to conventional manufacturing procedures such as turning and milling. Since metal 3D printing is based on a different cost structure, there are a number of facts to consider in order to use the technology to its advantages.

Suitable applications

When is metal 3D printing the better option compared to turning/milling?

Metal 3D printing is suitable for various applications:

  • When lightweight construction is required, i.e. when weight reduction is not possible due to the limitations of turning and milling. Components with complex geometries can be more optimised with 3D printing. Completely new shapes, topology-optimised using lattice structures or curves are created. The metal parts are just as stable as conventionally manufactured parts, but with much less weight. Lightweight parts are used in vehicles and in the aerospace industry, where lower weight and thus fuel reduction play a major role.
  • Another area of application is heat sinks. With 3D printing, thin and complex cooling structures can be optimally placed and shaped according to the component.
  • For use in the food industry, where small quantities of specifically adapted parts are often needed to process food according to the mould. The parts are cheaper in small series than injection moulded parts in plastic, as expensive moulds are no longer required. The use of metals such as stainless steel also ensures biocompatibility.
  • In industrial automation for grippers for robots or holders and the like. In addition to the optimised shape, massive weight savings can be made when using aluminium.
  • In general, the time needed for manufacturing a part is important. A component from the 3D printer is produced within a short time (if the print file is available) and is available much faster. Therefore parts can be ordered on demand, or design changes and reordering can be made on a regular basis.

What does metal 3D printing cost?

selective laser melting slm technology

You would probably have the perfect answer as to how much it costs. Unfortunately, this is not possible in general, as there are too many factors driving costs in the additive manufacturing of aluminium and other metals.

The following facts are relevant: If a conventional produced metal component is manufactured 1:1 in 3D printing, the costs are usually higher. This is because metal 3D printers are very expensive to purchase and the material, the powder is expensive too. In addition, a complex process is required for processing. Furthermore it has an impact how much space a component takes up in the installation space of the printer, e.g. for honeycomb structures.

If parts can be designed optmized regarding to their application due to the freedoms in additive manufacturing, the additive technology is worthwhile. The same applies when parts are produced in small quantities or cannot be produced in any other way.

If you would like to check your project, talk to our experts. We will be happy to evaluate the perfect solution together with you.

Are there other options or subsitutes to metal 3D printing?

There are plastics that have proven themselves in practice. These include composite materials that are reinforced with carbon fibres and thus withstand high loads. The materials are known from applications in aviation or motor sports. You can identify suitable applications based on the properties:

  • High load
  • Stiffness
  • Heat resistance
  • Special properties such as flame retardant or chemical resistant

If this is the case, these materials are a real alternative to metals and should be tested:

  • Onyx carbon fibre reinforced (FDM technology)
  • Onyx FR flame retardant (FDM technology)
  • DuraForm® HST fibre-reinforced (SLS technology)

 

Technical properties of 3D printing metals

The following metals are currently available at Jellypipe:

  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Corrosion resistant tool steel (Corrax)
  • Martensian nickel steel
  • Inconel (nickel-chromium-iron-molybdenum alloy)
  • Copper
  • Titanium

Please note that the values in the tables refer to the unprocessed material. If in practice a material is pushed to the limits of the given values, the component itself should be tested. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Table Part I/II

 

Aluminum (AlSi10Mg)

Inconel 625 (IN625)

Inconel 718 (IN618)

Copper (CuCr1Zr)

Titanium (TiAI6V4)

Technology

SLM

SLM

SLM

SLM

SLM

Density [g/cm3]

2.3

8.44

8.2

8.9

4.5

Tensile strength [MPa]

250

938

1350

340

900

E-modulus [Gpa]

70

170

180

110

110

Elongation at break [%]

1

30

17

25

10

Properties

High strength and dynamic load capacity, light weight,

High strength, high heat resistance, high corrosion resistance, and high oxidation resistance.

High strength, high heat resistance (700°), high corrosion resistance and high oxidation resistance.

High electrical and thermal conductivity and good finishing capabilities.

Titanium alloy with high strength. Corrosion resistant, light weight.

Table Part II/II

 

Stainless steel 1.4404

Stainless steel 1.4542

Corrosion resistant tool steel (Corrax)

Martensian nickel steel 1.2709

Technology

SLM

SLM

SLM

SLM

Density [g/cm3]

7.9

7.8

7.7

8

Tensile strength [MPa]

510

900

1100

1050

E-modulus [Gpa]

180

140

170

160

Elongation at break [%]

45

25

 

11

Certifications

 

 

Food

 

Properties

Good corrosion resistance, high conductivity

High corrosion resistance, sterilizable, high strength, high ductility

High corrosion resistance, high strength, food certified, good post-processing capabilities

Excellent tensile strength & toughness, Especially low warpage

Download this material-list here:

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How big parts can be 3d printed?

The installation spaces of the printers in the SLM have an installation space of 300 x 300 x 250 mm. If you need larger parts, please create an individual request on the platform. The minimum wall thickness of the parts must be at least 1 mm for both additive manufacturing technologies.

 

Which technologies are used?

Metals are produced with the additive manufacturing technology SLM (Selektives Laser Melting). The processes are powder bed based. During production, the metal powder is applied in thin layers and fused by laser beam.

 

 

We look forward to your 3D printing metal project.

Your Jellypipe

 


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Autor

Markus Grimm
Chief Virtual Printfactory

Suitable 3d printing materials (metals)