3D metal printing is a revolutionary technology that produces impossible-to-make parts directly from your CAD data. Advantages to this process include the ability to produce strong and complex geometries, internal lattice structures, conformal cooling channels, and other features that cannot be made with traditional machining. Parts can be made quickly with a minimum of material waste making them ideal for next-generation engineering in aerospace, medical, automotive, and other industries.
With all subtractive manufacturing services available in-house through our AddSub® service, you can produce great results for the most demanding projects.
What Is 3D Metal Printing?
At Star, we use a 3D printing process called Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM). This additive manufacturing process uses a high-powered laser to melt and fuse successive layers of powdered metal into three-dimensional solid parts. The advantage is that the more complex or feature rich the component, the more economical the process becomes.
Advantages Of 3D Printing
There are many benefits for 3D printing, especially if you know how to develop your product design to take advantage of them. Benefits include:
- 3D metal printed parts are fully dense, incorporating complex geometries and precise internal features that cannot be made with traditional machining alone.
- Designs can be made quickly with a minimum of material waste while maximizing strength.
- Conformal cooling channels greatly improve performance and resistance to thermal stress, ideal for aerospace and automotive applications.
- Multiple, identical parts can be built on a single platform at one time, greatly increasing production efficiency.
3D Metal Printing Process
First a 3D CAD file must be provided for the design. We use specialized software to divide this drawing file into multiple cross-sectional layers, with each layer representing a 30μm thickness of the final shape.
In order to achieve the best results, it’s essential that our engineers review your CAD drawing file in advance and optimize the program wherever necessary. This may include adding support structures to areas where the force of gravity can cause features to distort during the printing process. These supports will later be removed.
At Star, we use a Renishaw’s AM250. This is a state-of-the-art 3D metal printer for rapid prototyping and manufacturing.
Currently we offer 3D metal printing in titanium, stainless steel and aluminum. Each material has unique advantages relating to mechanical performance, weight, corrosion resistance and more. There are also economic costs to consider, so our engineers are happy to advise you on the best materials for your application and budget.
3D metal printing almost always requires some form of post-machining to provide features that 3D printing alone cannot provide. Using our in-house AddSub® service this is a fast and easy process where material is removed by CNC milling and turning, drilling, or grinding. We also have a range of other finishing processes to ensure that you get the look you want.
Material And Machine Details
Get Started On Your Next Project
Our team can offer you a comparison between 3D metal printing and conventional machining in those cases where both may be viable options. You’ll be able to assess not only cost differentials but potential advantages in performance, weight reduction and turnaround times for your projects. Contact us for your free quote and design review today.