Metal 3D Printing Service
Metal 3D 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, 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. Contact us today for a quote.
What Is Metal 3D 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 optimize your product design to take advantage of them. Benefits include:
- Metal 3D 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.
Metal 3D Printing Process
First a 3D CAD file must be provided for the design. In order to achieve the best results, it’s essential that our engineers review your CAD drawing file in advance and optimize the design wherever necessary. This may include optimizing build orientation and 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.
We then use specialized software to slice the drawing into multiple cross-sectional layers, with each layer representing a 20 – 60μm thickness of the final shape. Finally, we upload the sliced file into the machine to be printed. At Star, we use a Renishaw AM250, a state-of-the-art metal 3D printer for rapid prototyping and manufacturing.
Metal 3D Printing Tolerances
The general tolerance for metal 3D printing is +/- 0.5mm. However, it is significantly dependent on the geometry of the part being printed. Check out more guidelines to follow when designing for metal 3D printing.
Metal 3D Printing Materials
Currently we offer 3D metal printing in titanium, stainless steel, maraging 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.
Metal 3D printing almost always requires some form of post-machining to provide features that 3D printing alone cannot. Using our in-house AddSub® service, it 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 final look you want.
Our team can offer you a comparison between metal 3D 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.
Metal 3D Printing: Further Reading
3D rapid prototypes can be made in a variety of ways, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. In this guide, our industry-leading metal 3D printing service team discusses the top 7 methods for making 3D prototypes: stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), fusion deposition modeling (FDM), selective laser melting (SLM), laminated object manufacturing, digital lighting processing and binder jetting. Read more…
One of the most common misconceptions in the world of 3D printing is that the same CAD design can be used for either plastic or metal. This is not true. Metal and plastic have different properties, and the design process for each material varies in a number of ways. In this guide, we dive into the design differences between plastic and metal 3D printing to help you get a better understanding of each process. Read more…
With 3D metal printing, you can create an endless array of designs for applications ranging from the aerospace field to the medical profession. To ensure that your 3D metal printing project is a success, it’s important to adhere to certain engineering and design rules. From the beginning, it’s important to optimize your part for additive manufacturing and optimize your design for the machine you’re using. From there, you must use an appropriate wall thickness, create correct gap sizes, and design bridges suitable for metal 3D printing. In this guide, our metal 3D printing service providers discuss these design tips and more to help you get the most out of your next 3D metal printing project. Read more…
Our award-winning metal 3D printing service providers always strive to deliver the industry’s finest production services – that starts with using the finest production methods. To ensure consistent quality in our metal 3D printing service, we use a process called powder bed fusion to print our parts. Learn more about powder bed fusion, how it works and why it’s beneficial for many projects. Read more…
See Our Past Projects
New-York-based jewelry designer and goldsmith Veronica Nunes takes inspiration from nature and architecture to create flattering pieces for her jewelry brand VNunes. When she came to us to make her creations come to life, we used our metal 3D printing service to input her intricate designs and output meticulously-shaped finished products. We worked closely with Veronica to fine-tune her designs for maximum aesthetic appeal and structural integrity, focusing on several specific areas, including wire detailing, blade detailing, overhang, and moving parts. Read our case study to learn more.
All injection mold tools must be cooled to maximize efficiency and ensure consistent product quality. Traditionally, these tools have been cooled using linear paths, which have their limitations in terms of cooling effectiveness. To improve the results for a water reservoir for Marco Beverage, we made new molds using conformal cooling paths that “conform” to the shape of the mold itself and maximize cooling efficiency. These new 3D-printed metal parts reduced cooling time by as much as 60% over identical molds with traditional cooling paths. Explore the details here.