What are the Benefits and Limitations of Metal 3D Printing?

Nowadays there are a lot of ways to produce a three dimensional part. Obviously, the most common one is by using a 3D printer to develop the product. However, this can again be done in many different ways. By hiring 3D printing services you do not really have to worry about this, since they have so much knowledge and will help you lots. On the other hand, you do need to decide which metal you are going to use. You could for example use a type of plastic to manufacture your 3D model, but metal 3D printing is possible as well. To get more knowledge regarding this type of 3D printing you can read this article, which will introduce the benefits and limitations of using a material type in combination with a 3D printer.

What are the benefits of metal 3D printing?

A key advantage of 3D printing with the help of a metal is that it can be utilized to develop complex and bespoke pieces. These parts can have geometries which simply cannot be produced by using manufacturing processes that are normally seen as more traditional than 3D printing. On top of that, the metal products that have been made with the help of 3D printer usually have excellent physical specifications. Furthermore, the available range of metal materials that can be used includes types that are usually rather hard to process. Metal superalloys are great examples of this advantage. Another benefit of the 3D printed parts that are made out of a metal is that they can be topologically optimized. This way, their performance will be maximized while their weight will be minimized.

What are the limitations of metal 3D printing?

Unfortunately, 3D printing a metal has some disadvantages as well. For example, if you have already created a design this might not be suitable for metal 3D printing. Therefore, you would have to adjust and alter the three dimensional model. Furthermore, metal 3D printing often costs quite a lot. The manufacturing costs are high, just like the price to pay for the materials. If you can produce a part with a traditional method this might be better, since it probably is cheaper than metal 3D printing. On top of that, metal 3D printing systems do not have the biggest build sizes. This definitely is limited. This is the case since precise process control and manufacturing conditions are needed.

Rules of thumb

Metal 3D printing is most suitable for complex, bespoke parts that are difficult or very costly to manufacture with traditional methods. Minimizing the need for support structures will greatly reduce the cost of metal printing. Topology optimization is essential for maximizing the added benefits of using metal printing. Metal 3D printed parts have excellent mechanical properties and can be manufactured from a wide range of engineering materials, including metal superalloys.

FG Editorial Team
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