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Exploring today's technology for tomorrow's possibilities
3D Metal Printing from A to Z

3D Metal Printing from A to Z

Check out our infographic detailing the intricate ins and outs of 3D metal printing

3D metal printing is taking the industrial world by storm

  • 36% of companies globally used metal materials for 3D printing in 2018
  • The global market for 3D printing metals will reach a value of $12 billion by the year 2028
3D Metal Printing from A to Z Infographic

What is 3D metal printing?

3D metal printing is an additive technology.
Materials are slowly added in very thin layers so dimensions of the final product are precise down to the fraction of a millimeter.

3D metal printers can print using a variety of metals:

  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Sterling silver
  • Brass
  • Copper

What can 3D metal printing be used for?

  • Prototypes
  • Miniatures
  • Jewelry
  • Medical parts
  • Industrial parts for the automobile and aerospace industry
  • Experimental art and installations

Benefits of 3D metal printing

  • Complex shapes with precision: Assembly parts can be precise and streamlined compared to other manufacturing methods that result in rougher products that need more finishing steps.
  • Strong finish: Yields one piece with no weak spots due to welds or joints.
  • Lightweight: Minute pieces of metal translate to very sleek, low-weight final products.
  • Little to no waste: Metal powder can be treated and used again.
  • Productive: Up to 50x more productive than traditional manufacturing.
    • Faster
    • Requires less manpower
    • Easy to change designs on the fly

How does 3D metal printing work?

  • There are two main forms of 3D metal printing: Selective Laser Melting and Direct Metal Laser Sintering.
  • Both use lasers that scan and melt metal particles, bonding them together according to a preset design.

1. Selective Laser Melting (SLM)

  • Fully melts each layer of metal powder to create denser, stronger materials
  • Can only be used with certain metals like steel, titanium, cobalt chrome, and aluminum

2. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

  • Fuses metal powder layer-by-layer to create extremely thin layers
  • Can be used with almost any metal alloy

The HP Metal Jet 3D printer

HP® has partnered with GKN Powder Metallurgy® and Parmatech® to create the HP Metal Jet 3D printer.
  • 3D metal printing using the DMLS process
  • Capable of creating production-grade metal parts at a high volume

How the HP Metal Jet 3D printer works

1. Design Process

  • Computer-Assisted Design (CAD) software is used to create a 3D design.
  • 3D metal printer requires spliced horizontal design rendered on a horizontal plane.

2. Metal Printing

  • 3D metal printer gets instructions from the computer.
  • Metal powder is spread on the print bed to begin the build.
  • Print agent is deposited on powder at specific locations, shaping out the geometry of the final product.
  • Liquid components of print binding agents evaporate.
  • The print bed retracts, the next layer is printed, and the process repeats until the build is finished.

3. Curing

Printed parts are heated to remove final liquid component of the binding agents and to cure the polymers.

4. Decaking

The product is decaked to remove extra material residue before sintering.

5. Sintering

The powder material is compacted with heat.

6. Cooling and polishing

The build undergoes machining and polishing.

Benefits of HP Metal Jet 3D printer

  • Prints materials up to 60% lighter in weight compared to traditional production methods
  • Eliminates unnecessary waste: extra material can be reclaimed from the printing chamber and recycled
  • Energy savings for cars and other forms of transport such as the aviation industry
    • Less fuel is needed to move a lighter, 3D-metal printed structure
  • 3D-printed metal parts can save Boeing up to $3 million per plane in construction costs
  • Cars built with 3D metal parts like the Urbee capable of getting impressive mileage: 290 miles per gallon
  • 3D printing has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 130.5 to 525.5 Mt by 2025
Learn more about the HP Metal Jet printer on HP Tech Takes.

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