As a continuation of the metal 3D printing series, in this article, we provide you with a complete list of all metal 3D printing technologies currently on the market. The list covers a range of popular metal additive technology types currently used in the industry.
Many of you must already know that metal 3D printing, also known as metal additive manufacturing, is rapidly gaining acceptance in all walks of life. Thanks to the ever-expanding material library, end users are now investing in metal 3D printing systems and integrating them into their manufacturing workflows.
Metal 3D printing was once considered too expensive for small and medium enterprises to purchase, but with the decline in prices and the development of new specialized metal 3D printing materials, metal 3D printing has become more and more popular worldwide.
Before we delve into metal 3D printing technology, it is important to understand the following terms.
Sintering: Sintering refers to heating materials (or particles) to the point of liquefaction but not completely melting them. The sintering temperature is always lower than the melting temperature.
Green state: A state of metal 3D printed parts in which metal particles are held together through the use of an adhesive/adhesive material.
Degreasing: This is the process of removing the binder material from the green body.
Furnace sintering: This step follows the debinding process. In the furnace, the metal 3D printed parts are sintered to fuse the metal parts to form high-density solid parts.
We explored metal 3D printing technologies that are widely used in various industries. Check out our list below:
1. Combined Metal Deposition™ (BMD)-Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology 2. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) 3. Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM) 4. HP's MetalJet Fusion-Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology 5. Directed Energy Deposition (DED) Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology 6. Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM)-Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology 7. MELD-Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology 8. Electric Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) 9. Cold Spray Additive Manufacturing-Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology 10. Joule Printing™-Multimetal 3D Printing Technology 11. Waterborne Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology 12. Cold Metal Fusion Technology 13. Atomic Diffusion Additive Technology Manufacturing (ADAM)
Bound Metal Deposition™ (BMD) is an extrusion-based metal AM technology developed by Desktop Metal. Although popular methods use metal in the form of powder or wire feedstock, BMD 3D printing technology uses metal powder rods bonded together by wax and a polymer binder. These rods are used as raw materials in desktop metal systems.
The 3D printing process is similar to a material extrusion 3D printer, in which a metal rod is heated and extruded onto the build platform in a layer-by-layer fashion according to the geometry of the part.
The 3D printed object created in this way is still in a green state, so it is degreased and then sintered to obtain the final all-metal part.
Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is one of the most popular metal 3D printing technologies. It is one of the earliest metal additive manufacturing technologies invented, so it is widely used in various industries. Compared with other processes, DMLS also provides a relatively large range of materials.
This technology uses powdered metal materials to make objects. It uses a powerful CO2 laser to flash it onto fine metal powder particles. When the laser traces the geometry of the object to be formed, the particles in the laser line merge with their neighboring particles to form a bond. This process of laser tracking geometry will continue throughout the layer until all points are covered. After printing the first layer, the build board moves down, and the second layer is printed on top of the first layer. This process continues until all layers are 3D printed.
The alternative to DMLS is DMLM (Direct Metal Laser Melting). The only significant difference is the heating temperature. In DMLS, powder particles are sintered, while in DMLM, the particles are melted.
Selective laser melting (SLM) and electron beam melting (EBM) are similar types of powder bed fusion metal 3D printing technology, so they are very similar to DMLS technology, but there are some significant differences.
SLM Metal AM technology also uses powdered metal materials to fuse adjacent particles with lasers. The difference between SLM and DMLS is heat. In SLM, the particles are melted instead of sintered (as in the case of DMLS).
Since the metal is melted, SLM technology is a very high-energy process. Melting can also cause stress inside the final product. But the objects printed by SLM are denser and stronger than DMLS.
SLM technology can print stainless steel, tool steel, titanium, cobalt-chromium alloy, aluminum, nickel alloy and other materials.
In the case of EBM, only the heat source changes. Use an electron beam instead of a laser to melt the particles to fuse them. EBM can only be used for a very limited number of materials.
HP's revolutionary 3D printing technology Multijet Fusion has changed the rules of the game. It brings new voxel-level control to 3D printing. HP has two technologies based on similar principles-Multi Jet Fusion and Metal Jet Fusion. The only difference is the use of materials. Multi Jet Fusion technology uses polymers, while Metal Jet is used for metals. The work remains the same.
Metal Jet technology uses powdered metal materials, such as stainless steel (17-4 PH and 316L), which are used in automobiles, medical, industrial, and 3C (computers, mobile phones, and consumer electronics).
Directed Energy Deposition (DED) is a metal AM technology that uses powdered or wire-like metals as raw materials. This material is pushed into the nozzle, where it is heated by using laser (laser energy net shape-LENS) or electron beam (electron beam additive manufacturing-EBAM) and continuously deposited on the build platform. The whole process is carried out under an inert atmosphere to protect the material from unnecessary oxidation.
There are many variants of DED, such as laser engineering net shaping (using laser), electron beam additive manufacturing (using electron beam), rapid plasma deposition (using plasma arc), and wire arc additive manufacturing (using electric arc). Has its own set of benefits.
Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) is a unique metal 3D printing technology that has shown great potential for large-scale 3D printing applications in a wide range of industries.
It is a variant of direct energy deposition 3D printing technology, but uses an arc welding process to melt metal wires. Unlike other metal AM processes, WAAM uses electric arc as a heat source.
The molten wire is extruded in the form of beads or liquid metal. Adjacent beads fuse together to form a layer of metal. Repeat this process for the entire layer and all subsequent layers until the entire object is 3D printed.
WAAM technology is promoted for various large-scale applications by MX3D, WAAM3D, ALM3D, LEAS, Gefertec and many other companies.
Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) belongs to the sheet lamination category of 3D printing technology.
In this metal 3D printing technology, metal plates are joined together by ultrasonic welding. Since this technology does not involve any melting, the product formed by this technology maintains its density and strength. After welding, the parts do not require any additional machining or material removal steps.
In UAM technology, dissimilar metals such as aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and titanium can be connected together, so that there is greater flexibility in the strength requirements of the parts.
MELD 3D printing technology, patented by Aeroprobe Corporation and now held by Meld Manufacturing, is a unique solid metal additive manufacturing process in which the metal is not sintered or melted.
This technology is not just a metal additive manufacturing technology. It can provide component repair, metal joining, custom metal alloy and metal matrix composite blanks, as well as part manufacturing and coating applications.
In MELD 3D printing, the metal is heated by a combination of strong force and friction until the heated metal starts to flow freely. Then the free flowing metals are "fused" together. MELD metal behaves like a viscous liquid. But it is not liquid. In this special plastic state, the metal is still solid. This is what makes MELD unique.
MELD is the first process that allows you to build 3D parts in solid state. Non-melting means that you can produce products that are comparable to or better than parts made by traditional subtractive processing in one step.
The cold spray additive manufacturing process involves the use of supersonic gas jets to accelerate powdered metal particles and burn them on the substrate layer. The base layer can be a build platform for printing from scratch, or it can be an existing assembly that deposits materials to build new parts or repair existing parts.
This technique is called cold spray because it does involve melting or even heating of the material. The material is only sprayed at supersonic speed. This high speed plasticizes the powder material upon impact and forms a solid bond with the substrate.
The process is controlled with the help of an industrial robot, which performs precise movements to create complex shapes. Compared with traditional processes, cold spray technology is faster.
The cold spray AM method can be effectively used to repair and modify components.
Joule Printing™ is a multi-material metal additive technology developed by Digital Alloys, a manufacturer located in Massachusetts. It uses metal wire as its base material instead of the expensive powder used in the comparison system. It is suitable for any metal wire form. This technology is a very simple, high-speed process that can melt wires into useful shapes.
The basic workflow of Joule Printing™ is as follows:
Joule Printing™ technology has been used in the aerospace, automotive and other consumer goods industries.
This unique water-based metal additive manufacturing technology was developed by a Canadian start-up company called Rapidia. This technology eliminates the degreasing stage of metal 3D printing related to metal 3D printing. This not only speeds up the manufacturing process, but also simplifies the process and eliminates the need for chemicals.
In this method, water-based metal paste is used to manufacture complex parts. This paste does not contain solvents and is safe to handle. The Rapidia process uses water to bind metal powder so that the material can be handled safely. Water will evaporate during printing, saving time and eliminating the need for degreasing machines or solvents.
Cold Metal Fusion technology was developed by Headmade Materials, a German 3D printing company. Simply put, this technology is called metal selective laser sintering technology. This sinter-based cold metal fusion technology uses existing 3D printing and powder metallurgy machinery and process ecosystems.
The cold metal fusion process uses polymer-coated metal powder. This powder is used in traditional SLS machines like any polymer powder. Although this process is called cold metal fusion, it is not completely cold.
Printing takes place at 80 degrees Celsius, which can be easily achieved with traditional polymer printing systems. The printing process follows the same sequence as a regular SLS 3D printer and builds the parts. Since metal printing is performed at very low temperatures, the process is called cold metal fusion.
The printed part is still in a green state, so before actual use, it must go through a fixed stage of powder removal, post-processing, degreasing, and final sintering.
Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) is currently one of the most popular metal 3D printing technologies. It was developed by Markforged. This is an end-to-end process, starting with forming plastic-bonded metal powder into a 3D shape, one layer at a time. After printing, the parts are cleaned in a degreasing solution and sintered in a furnace. The sintering step is essential to burn off the plastic binder and cause the metal powder to diffuse together.
The resulting parts have high precision and excellent strength characteristics, enabling manufacturers to use the technology for prototyping, tooling, end-use parts, and traditional parts. ADAM is a realistic and cost-effective choice for the operation of small and medium-sized near-net-shape metal parts.
ADAM can use a variety of materials, such as stainless steel, tool steel, and currently uses Inconel, as well as copper and titanium.
We have seen the top 13 technologies developed by 3D printing companies for various applications and to provide services for various applications. As you read this article, there are more technologies available, and even more technologies are under development. Depending on the materials to be used and the applications to be catered to, the company can invest in one of a variety of technologies to make the most of the technology.
If you are reading a comprehensive guide to getting started with metal 3D printing, then you should check out our previous post on getting started and follow more posts covering all the elements of metal 3D printing.
Our next article will cover a complete list of metal 3D printing materials that can be used in various technologies and various applications.
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