3D Printing Materials and technologies

The 3D printing process builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, usually by successively adding material layer by layer, which is why it is also called additive manufacturing, unlike conventional machining, casting and forging processes, where material is removed from a stock item (subtractive manufacturing) or poured into a mold and shaped by means of dies, presses and hammers

The term “3D printing” covers a variety of processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object,with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together), typically layer by layer.

Material used can be summarized in three major categories:

  • Metal
  • Ceramic
  • Plastic

Furthermore can be analyzed below:

 

Functional prototyping:

Functional prototypes have specific requirements—including high stiffness, high strength, and heat resistance—demanding metal which can clearly stand up to repeated use over time as opposed to plastic parts. Complex shapes and geometries, dramatically reduce prototyping lead time. However, metal 3D printing can now eliminate these difficult manufacturing methods, meet all the minimum industry specifications and allow for assembly consolidation by producing functional prototypes quickly, using the same metal material required for the final part in order to aid design optimization.

 Tooling:

Metal manufacturing is essential to the production of many industrial products for high-impact applications in the manufacturing, military, aerospace and automotive industry. Tool-making can be tedious due to complex geometries and part requirements, resulting in processes that are expensive and time consuming. However, metal 3D printing can now provide the ability to print aftermarket parts quickly, less expensively and on-demand. Shaving, grinding, honing, lapping, Maintenance Repair and Operations (MRO) parts can be great candidates for 3D printing. Therefore, companies can now reduce downtime for customers in need of replacement parts.

Jigs & fixtures:

Jigs and fixtures are definitely necessary to lean manufacturing, but they’re usually de-prioritized when compared to other production needs. Metal 3D printing allows engineers to produce jigs and fixtures, regarding parts and wear items for repeated use, quickly using a design optimized for the specific need. Additionally, if any part needs further customizations, it is more than easy to go back, interfere to the design and make any essential iterations. The cost savings and lead time savings over traditional manufacturing methods are very high and the ability to produce replacement parts on-demand is critical to operational efficiency.

Molds:

Mold production is nowadays a wide industry which associates with the majority of industries around the world. Just a reminder that manufacturing, military, aerospace, automotive and every day consumer goods are some examples of industries which use molds in their processes. During the injection molding process, cooling can account for up to 95% of the cycle time. Using internal conformal cooling channel results in an increase in part quality and a reduction of cycle time allowing up to 40% more throughput. The high temperatures and pressures of injection molding make metal mold inserts a necessity and 3D printing the inserts shortens production run lead time and costs.

General Applications:

You never thought about it, but just imagine using metal 3D printing for making anything you may need of dream regarding jewelry, home and general decoration, architectural models, gaming figures or even advertising!

Medical:

Generally, zirconia based ceramics are chemically inert materials, which have no adverse effect or general tissue reactions. Zirconia based materials, allowing good cell adhesion and no adverse systemic reactions have been associated with it. Therefore, 3D printing ceramic undoubtedly an important technique to produce supra construction for teeth restoration, implants in dentistry and also in implantable medical devices such as pacemakers or hip replacements. Due to their biocompatibility, wear resistance, chemical and corrosion resistance, low allergenic potential, ceramic biomedical implants are the optimum solution for problems arising from disease, infections and other complications, and continue to deliver improved performance in healthcare.

Manufacturing:

Ceramic manufacturing is essential to the production of many industrial products for high-impact applications in the military and in aerospace manufacturing, as well as in the construction, automotive, refractory, power generation, industrial, chemical and food processing industries. Due to their special insulation and/or heat, wear and corrosion resistance they are used as cutting tools, refractory materials and thermal and electrical insulator. Combined with other unique properties, ceramic components are found in a wide range of demanding applications that ensure reliable functioning in aerospace technology, the automotive industry and optoelectronics.

Research & Development:

Ceramics have many outstanding physical and chemical properties and attract lots of researchers’ attentions to find new industrial applications for this kind of material such as components resistant to the high temperature, piezoelectric sensor and actuators. The ability to deliver prototypes in a reasonable time and at an acceptable price can be a decisive factor in a competitive market. 3D Printing virtually eliminates initial tooling costs, thus making prototyping and small production runs economically feasible.

General Applications:

Its clear appearance has established a growing demand for ceramics in jewelry, decoration and also advertising industry. We can distinctively recognize ceramics in appliances, high-end smartphone and watch cases and as interior automotive trim on luxury vehicles. Consumer products are subject to high wear, impact, temperature fluctuation and proximity to other electronic devices. The excellent properties of ceramics make it an ideal choice to mitigate these circumstances’ effect to the ceramic part or to its appearance. For high-end consumer products, better-quality and diagnostic wearable technology, ceramics are an excellent alternative to plastics and metals.

Dental:

Full-production and high-speed continuous 3D printers for dentists, orthodontics and dental labs are now part of the dental industry, an industry which require extreme accuracy, high throughput and a smooth surface finish. Our 3D printers efficiently respond to these requirements and deliver tight-fitting crowns and orthodontic models with a best-in-class smooth surface. This technology revolution provides lower costs and therefore more convenient chairside care and tighter control over treatment plans.

Medical:

Using bio-compatible and drug-contact materials, medical devices, including hearing aid devices, can be produced that are perfectly suited for a particular individual. The ability to deliver smooth, organic shapes that fit snugly in the ear certainly assist doctors for better adjustment and performance. Furthermore, good color choices help patients to accept their discreet appearance much more easily.

Prototyping:

Quick design changes can be made in a simple tweak to a computer file and the new part can be ready for testing quickly with 3D printing. Eliminating the need for expensive tooling during the design process can free designers to focus on creating lighter weight structures, boosting efficiency, reducing emissions, and other important factors. Specifically, by removing the need for tooling and assembly, 3D printing significantly reduces the cost and development time of prototyping and manufacturing of functional, durable and rigid parts.

Aftermarket and replacement parts:

Aerospace Industry, Automotive Industry and of course the very demanding Manufacturing Industry can now produce lighter components, increase yields of critical parts and reduce spare parts inventory by producing on demand. With 3D printing solutions, costs are reduced by eliminating traditional tooling and shorten development and manufacturing time for prototypes or functional parts. Therefore, with a more cost-effective approach ability to deliver finished parts concepts and innovations is clearly improved and more importantly, process of approval is accelerated and production time is reduced.