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This article has gathered a series of questions and answers about rapid prototyping with metal. Find the knowledge you need from these FAQs collected by the best prototype companies.
What industries are rapid prototyping with metal utilized in?
Rapid prototyping with metal has many advantages. Taking aluminum as an example, it gives parts very good resistance and very lightweight. This kind of metal does have one of the best strength/weight ratios. It is suitable for prototypes and functional components in aerospace and automotive applications, as well as military applications. It is also an excellent material for making parts with complex geometries, precision or production tools, and injection molding. Aerospace is the most commonly used industry for aluminum because of its light weight and durable materials.
Which technology is used in rapid prototyping with metal?
Rapid prototyping with metal typically adopts SLM and DMLS technology. Today, some best prototype companies are able to use 3D to print 30μm metal per layer. In contrast, 3D printed plastics have a standard resolution of 100 – 150μm; HD layer has a thickness of 60μm. Yet due to the complexity of SLM metal 3D printing, most manufacturers are currently unable to print moving parts using the metal.
How does the SLM 3D printer work and how much does it cost in rapid prototyping with metal using an SLM 3D printer?
In rapid prototyping with metal, selective laser melting works layer by layer to create objects from 3D CAD files. The raw material powder is melted by a laser to make a coating of this thing. The principle is similar to the SLS technique, but at a higher temperature to completely melt the powder. Metal powder is a costly material in comparison with polyamide powder. Usually, in these best prototype companies, as soon as you upload your layout, the 3D print cost is automatically calculated and displayed.
One of the main drivers of metal rapid prototyping costs is trial and error: due to lack of expertise, most projects require multiple attempts before performing aluminum 3D printing designs. The agile metal technology tools will reduce back and forth costs by helping you evaluate the best design based on thermal constraints (in terms of support, structure, and final post-processing). Moreover, 3D file review and optimization tools for metal 3D printing are already very expensive, and entrepreneurs or small and medium-sized companies can't afford it. These tools make metal additive manufacturing a price that the public today can afford.
Does rapid prototyping with metal have specific 3D design constraints?
Yes, rapid prototyping with metal does have specific design constraints. Even these best prototype companies have to admit that metal rapid prototyping could be more complex than plastic rapid prototyping. When designing a metal part, the following points must be considered:
1. Thermal constraint. Parts are subjected to high temperatures and cooling times during the printing process. This part may be deformed compared to your original design, which is why some modeling constraints are needed to reduce these thermal constraints. Some AMT tools, like the Smart Design Optimizer, will provide thermal behavioral simulations to help you predict distortion and avoid printing failures. Read more >>> 7 Ways Used by Prototype Manufacturing Company to Avoid Deformation in Rapid Prototyping of the Metal
2. The quantity of your object. The main advantage of rapid prototyping with metal is that only the materials needed to obtain a physical object are used. The less you use, the cheaper you spend. We advocate reducing the number of substances used to your own part by creating some layout optimizations. The Automated Lattice Generator will evaluate the force applied to the final part and provide advice to reinforce or mitigate (or even suppress) certain parts of the design with the same mechanical function.
3. Rapid prototyping with metal requires support. Even with powder support, SLM and DMLS 3D printing require specific support to secure the part and eliminate thermal stress. These supports should also be considered during design as they affect the thermal performance of the part during the printing process.
4. Finishes. Post-processing is also a very important phase when designing a part because it defines the final appearance of the object. Be sure to consider what post-processing will be done on your rapid prototype. The right tools will help you determine which surface finishes a part needs to enter the entire manufacturing process.
What kind of finish can rapid prototyping with metal do?
Surface treatment in rapid prototyping with metal is much more complicated than plastic rapid prototyping surface processing, and the technology is more complicated. Turning to best prototype companies that have experienced metal rapid prototyping engineers who are dedicated to working with you will evaluate your project and ensure that your model is exactly what you need.
They will help you choose the best post-processing strategy and do the following: polishing, grinding, turning, milling, drilling, threading, and heat treatment.
To learn more about metal rapid prototyping technology and design guidelines, you can visit our blog or our official website.
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