3D printing can be accomplished using one of several methods. Each of these provides slightly different results in terms of efficiency and speed which is why it’s a good idea to learn more about your options and how they will affect your cost.
Here, we’ll briefly cover some of the most common 3D printing technologies that are in use at present.
Industrial 3D Printers UK: Types of Different Technologies
These are the top alternatives if you’re considering purchasing an industrial metal 3D printer for sale:
FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling): Although FDM remains a mainstay of 3D printing using thermoplastics, you can use it to print metal with the help of metal-infused plastic filaments or filaments that are almost completely metallic. It involves the extrusion of filament through a nozzle, and in case of metal printing, the finished product can contain over 95% metal. However, they require hardened or reinforced steel since metal can be abrasive to the extruders.
A lot of manufacturers consider metal FDM as the best large format 3D printer method these days since it’s the most cost-effective way to mass-produce metal parts. This is because several desktop 3D printers such as the MakerBot Method can create products using metal even though they were initially designed for plastics.
Selective Laser Melting (SLM): Also known as LPBF (Laser Powder Bed Fusion), it is the most used metal 3D printing technology. It is capable of making parts from a wide range of metals, including iron, cobalt, nickel, aluminium, and titanium. Its process involves the use of one or more lasers to fuse microscopic particles by melting layer upon layer of metal powder. However, you will need some post-processing for the right finish based on your requirements, since the surface finish of the laminations isn’t smooth.
EBM (Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion): This technique also fuses metal powder except that it melts the metal with the help of an electron beam rather than lasers. It has a faster production speed as compared to SLM, although the precision is reduced. Moreover, this method is carried out at extreme temperatures within a vacuum. The result is a part with superior properties than cast or wrought materials.
Metal Binder Jetting: It is a method that has quickly been gaining popularity among industrial 3D printers UK over the past few years thanks to greater flexibility and affordability in comparison with SLM. A binder jet printer works by spreading a layer of metal powder, after which it builds a geometry to place a binding polymer through a jetting head. Similar to FDM, however, printing is only the beginning: the product requires post-processing steps, such as debinding, de-powdering, sintering, infiltration, annealing, and finishing.
Cold Spray: In this method, metal powders are sprayed at supersonic speeds rather than melting to bind them. This all but eliminates thermal stress, making it useful for coating. Cold spraying is being increasingly used for additive manufacturing as it is capable of layering metals at 50-100 times the speed of metal 3D printers and in precise geometries. In many cases where cold spray is used to restore metal parts or for on-location repairs, the repaired components turn out to be superior to the new ones.
DED (Direct Energy Deposition): DED involves melting metals while depositing them to fuse them. This is a relatively intricate category that finds its use in repair and upkeep. This category includes many processes such as LENS (Laser Engineered Net Shaping), DLF (Directed Light Fabrication), and DMD (Direct Metal Depositions).
A DED industrial metal 3D printer for sale works at repairing broken components where traditional techniques fail.
There are other 3D printing methods that use metal filaments as well. These include metal lithography, metal micro 3D printing, wire arc printing, and powder feed laser energy deposition.