When it comes to 3D printing metal, there are many different techniques in use. The versatility of 3D printing means that new technological developments have been ongoing for decades to create techniques better suited to create products for a variety of purposes. The primary forms for metal 3D printing are Metal FDM, DMLS, and CMF.
Desktop Metal and Metal X from Markforged is FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printing. This is similar to 3D printing techniques used to print other materials. FDM works by depositing a material- in this case, metal with wax- layer by layer, then binding them together. With Metal Despoiting, this step is followed by submerging the printed product into a debinder to create an open-pore structure that is then sintered together to create a stronger complete part.
DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) takes a different approach, building layers up by melting or sintering together layers in an existing bed of powdered metal. A laser-guided by a computer moves as guided by the computer to melt the powder into the desired shape. When the object is completed, it is removed from the powder bed and finished to ensure maximum structural integrity.
CMF (Cold Metal Fusion) is a process developed to reduce the exposure of metal to oxygen as it is benign sintered. It works similarly to FDM, but thanks to its unique binding agent polymer that reduces oxygen exposure, it occurs at much lower temperatures, hence the term ‘cold’. This combination of factors is meant to allow polymer 3D printers to be able to work with metal, as well, reducing the need for specialized machines.
Each of these three techniques has advantages and disadvantages. Metal FDM allows for an amazing amount of customizability and optimization, allowing for the elimination of unnecessary material in designs, but can only handle small batches at a time and requires specialized design considerations. DMLS is very effective for mechanical products, producing stable parts, but the printers are expensive to purchase and operate, which feeds into overall production costs. CMF is relatively new, but it does offer some of the lowest investment for setting up 3D print metal. However, it does not offer as many design options as the others.
At Jawstec, we offer expert work for all projects, big or small. Our products are used by industry leaders like Tesla, BMW, and Amazon. We have been working with metal 3D printing since our earliest days and are happy to offer not only top-notch service but also expert advice for your project that comes from years of working in this fast-moving industry. Contact us today or use our 3D print quote tool to see how we can help you.