3D metal printing
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  1. #1
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    Default 3D metal printing

    I am following this topic for the last few years and could use a system in my shop...if the price, size and operating cost (all preferably on the smaller scale ) and specifications are right. This will be for mostly small parts in the medical devices field, mostly stainless and mostly complex shapes that the printing will defeat the purpose if there there is too much work to cut the support, polish and do other finishing later.
    So far none of the systems offered seems right on all those accounts. But a few days ago, talking to a colleague, I was surprised to find out that there is actually a company in my area (in Vancouver, BC, Canada) that just came out with a system that might be exactly what I want:

    Metal 3D Printer - Rapidia

    The system will be shown in the RAPID + TCT 2019 conference in Detroit from May 20th to 23rd, but I hope to see it locally before this. If so I'll report - can be of interest to all in my position.

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    I'd have questions about the density of the final sintered product, any dimensional changes after sintering, and its material properties when the bonding materials were boiled and burnt out .

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    It sounds interesting, but as already pointed out, make sure the dimensional accuracy after sintering, and porosity/density will meet your requirements. I believe the MarkForge metal printer works in a similar fashion.

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    Desktop Metal uses a 3-step process based on "metal injection molding": print, debind, sinter.

    This system appears to use a different type of binder to go straight from print to sinter, eliminating the middle step that involves chemical waste.

    This won't have any effect on finishing requirements. A sintered part is still going to have a finish similar to that of a fine casting.

    If you want to go straight to finished part, look at the Matsuura Lumex machines. These alternate between printing and milling on each layer to achieve the desired result. Price on the smaller model is close to a million USD.

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    Any idea on the price?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orange Vise View Post
    Desktop Metal uses a 3-step process based on "metal injection molding": print, debind, sinter.

    This system appears to use a different type of binder to go straight from print to sinter, eliminating the middle step that involves chemical waste.

    This won't have any effect on finishing requirements. A sintered part is still going to have a finish similar to that of a fine casting.

    If you want to go straight to finished part, look at the Matsuura Lumex machines. These alternate between printing and milling on each layer to achieve the desired result. Price on the smaller model is close to a million USD.

    I've arranged to see the system at the plant next week and will go to Vancouver (over three hour trip each way)to get more info and, hopefully, to see the operation and results. From the short phone conversion I got the impression that the system is not that expensive (certainly not into millions...)
    I like the idea that the parts need no debinding and can be brushed with water to get a smooth (smoother?) finish.

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    Full disclosure: I know several of the Rapidia people quite well including the founder. First price: I understand it's aiming at the Markforged price range which is like $140-$170K very roughly. The interesting thing with this machine is by simplifying the debind step it's overall way more compact than the others in this category in terms of the actual floor space required. I think for example it's the only one of these that would physically fit in our very space-limited shop for example.

    By the way, this whole "aimed at the medical device market" is a bunch of malarkey but that's an argument for another day. Hopefully Implemex will chime in here and take a big bite out of a reality sandwich on this topic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcoope View Post
    Full disclosure: I know several of the Rapidia people quite well including the founder. First price: I understand it's aiming at the Markforged price range which is like $140-$170K very roughly. The interesting thing with this machine is by simplifying the debind step it's overall way more compact than the others in this category in terms of the actual floor space required. I think for example it's the only one of these that would physically fit in our very space-limited shop for example.

    By the way, this whole "aimed at the medical device market" is a bunch of malarkey but that's an argument for another day. Hopefully Implemex will chime in here and take a big bite out of a reality sandwich on this topic.
    I agree with you that there is quite a lot of hype regarding 3D metal printing for the medical market...as indeed in the whole area of 3D printing in general. But despite the hype and the many unrealistic and exaggerated claims, the process offers some advantages not easily possible in other ways. Currently I am doing some small, complex parts by high resolution 3D printed patterns in wax and investment casting. I think some of those, especially where accuracy and surface finish are less critical, can be directly printed in metal, with the advantages of the process that are not possible in casting; for example internal lattices. Like any emerging technology, additive metal forming process will find eventually its legitimate place.

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    I am far from being a expert on this method. Where I used to work has a 3D printer that uses metal dust and then uses a laser to melt the dust to a solid. No sintering required.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by TDegenhart View Post
    I am far from being a expert on this method. Where I used to work has a 3D printer that uses metal dust and then uses a laser to melt the dust to a solid. No sintering required.

    Tom

    That's an SLS printer... Selective Laser Sintering

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wlodek View Post
    I agree with you that there is quite a lot of hype regarding 3D metal printing for the medical market...as indeed in the whole area of 3D printing in general. But despite the hype and the many unrealistic and exaggerated claims, the process offers some advantages not easily possible in other ways. Currently I am doing some small, complex parts by high resolution 3D printed patterns in wax and investment casting. I think some of those, especially where accuracy and surface finish are less critical, can be directly printed in metal, with the advantages of the process that are not possible in casting; for example internal lattices. Like any emerging technology, additive metal forming process will find eventually its legitimate place.
    For most of the potential applications I've come across, surface finish would be an issue. One area where you are happy with some roughness is where a part is supposed to bind to bone, such as hip and femoral head replacement parts. But these are rather niche applications with established market players versus the number of devices and components that need to be as smooth as practicable for sterilization reasons. My friend just went to the Sauber (now Alfa Romeo) F1 team headquarters in Switzerland and they apparently do a number of 3D printed parts, seemingly because they can get the internal lattices for parts like the roll hoops. I found this interesting because F1 car production is probably a perfect niche right now where they need to make small numbers of parts, but definitely not unit quantities, and they need good strength to weight ratios. One other thing as one considers actually buying a system, for many applications you are going to want to print and then machine some features, as with traditional castings. So you ideally have a fancy five axis CNC machine before you get the fancy metal printer. We actually are in such a position with the CNC machine in place so I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't scheming how to get $$$ for this....

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    Without sharing any confidential information, can you suggest the types of parts you are involved in that require internal lattices and structures? I've been struggling to imagine good examples in this area that make sense. My concerns have been along the lines of parts that can't be inspected, that need to be; Like parts with internal lattices. One metal 3D printer keeps using a motorcycle brake or clutch lever as an example of the perfect part for internal lattices, and this seems like a good example for a racing bike, but for critical parts beyond that, I don't yet see proper examples, jet engines aside (Leap fuel nozzle, and titanium blades with integral passageways for cooling, both by GE)


    Quote Originally Posted by Wlodek View Post
    I agree with you that there is quite a lot of hype regarding 3D metal printing for the medical market...as indeed in the whole area of 3D printing in general. But despite the hype and the many unrealistic and exaggerated claims, the process offers some advantages not easily possible in other ways. Currently I am doing some small, complex parts by high resolution 3D printed patterns in wax and investment casting. I think some of those, especially where accuracy and surface finish are less critical, can be directly printed in metal, with the advantages of the process that are not possible in casting; for example internal lattices. Like any emerging technology, additive metal forming process will find eventually its legitimate place.

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    I've seen lattice designs for the aerospace industry utilizing DMLS technology, and the demand is going up. I work in the industry of additive manufacturing, while we are working towards getting AS9100 to do these kind of prints, our competitors are getting a lot of aerospace business. Other than that though most of our business does not involve any sort of lattice optimization, aside from printing samples because lattice structures look awesome.


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