3D Printing is one latest tech innovation in the design world. It is a revolutionary field of design that has found many uses in various industries including, architecture, construction, automotive, aerospace, and product development. The most popular and commercially available 3D printers use plastic filaments to develop plastic objects. Although now, metal 3D printing is starting to gain popularity in various applications. Metal 3D printers are not replacing metal casting services or forging, but they show great promise at improving metal fabrication techniques.
How Does Metal 3D Printing Work?
Metal 3D printing works similarly to plastic printing through the process of additive manufacturing. Unlike plastic 3D printers, however, metal 3D printers use a high-powered laser to melt atomized metal powder that quickly solidifies to form a rigid structure. During the printing, a robotic arm sweeps the metal power across the build plate after every melting session to provide the raw material.
Applications of Metal 3D Printers
Much like plastic 3D printing, metal printing is primarily used in rapid prototyping and designing custom-built parts for unique creations and applications. 3D printing, in general, provides a cost and time-effective method of simulating, modeling, and testing physical designs in the real world. It helps designers and engineers develop and realize design concepts that would otherwise be impossible using traditional development criteria and methods.
Metal 3D printers cannot be used to mass-produce metal parts for either industrial or consumer applications, at least with the current technology. Printing in metal takes an insanely long time, and the cost of running a printing session is way too high. In addition to the time and cost constraints, 3D-Printed metal parts don’t fare very well in terms of durability, strength, and reliability compared to say forged or cast pieces.
Metal 3D printing is an exciting concept, but at least for now, it is only useful in precise applications. Hopefully, as technology advances, low-cost and efficient metal printing processes may be developed, and metal 3D printers could become more useful.