Printing | 20 10 2016

​Metal Printing Technology

Metal printing plays a huge role in the industry. Parts created using this method are widely used in aerospace, health care automotive and more, for variety of high-end, low volume use from prototyping to final product. Various metals and alloys are used for this type of printing such as titanium, steel, aluminum and nickel, to 3D print final parts and functional prototypes. Two of the most common 3D metal printing technologies are Electron Beam Melting (EBM) and (Selective Laser Melting). EBM and SLM are in a way similar to the SLS. Just like the SLS, EBM and SLM are selectively melting powdered material into thin layers, using a heat source in order to create the object. They work with metal as the material and for the purpose of melting it, they need a lot of power. The EMB 3D printing technique uses electron beam to melt the material, while the SLM uses a laser. The electron beam is handled by electromagnetic coils, which grant great accuracy and speed when melting the material and it is possible to maintain more than one melting pool. The process starts when the printer delivers the powdered material onto its building platform. When the 3D object is printed with the SLM technique, the powdered material is melted with laser in low oxygen environment. When it is EBM, that is used, the material is melted using electron beam in vacuumed space, to prevent warping. EBM plays a very big part in the manifacturing for health care, because of its ability to make implants. When the heat source melts down the material, creating the layer, the building platform is dropping a little to open up space for the new layer and the powdered material is spread over it again. This process continues until the object is complete. There however is the difference with SLS. While they are similar in their usage of heat source to melt the materials down, EBM and SLM need support structures for the object not to break down, where SLS does not as it uses its own powder bed to provide support. 

EBM and SLM prints are so advanced that in terms of mechanical properties, chemical consumption and micro-structure they are nearly the same as traditionally created parts. Characteristics of the EBM 3D printing method are the possibility to create complex geometries and provides great freedom of design. It can create very durable parts with high density. It has the ability to create parts that are ready to use in many spheres and many other strengths. SLM on its turn also is widely used in the health care as well. The main way in which it contributes is by making prosthetics, because the objects can easily be altered to match the patients physical characteristics.