What is 3D metal printing?

3D metal printing is a production process where material is added instead of being removed, as done so in many other production processes. K3D makes use of a process where metal powder is melted by lasers and shaped into a solid part.

Advantages of 3D metal printing

The 3D printer

K3D uses high-end production machines, called the Metalfab1. This is the first fully integrated 3D metal printer suitable for serial production. After Airbus, K3D is the first in the world who prints parts with this unique machine.

  • Build volume: 420 x 420 x 400 [mm]
  • 4 lasers !
  • 2 build chambers
  • Heat treatment up to: 1100 °C

The machine has a high productivity thanks to the integrated automated robot. Here you can find more information about the Metalfab1.

  • Complex shapes are possible.
  • Enviromentally friendly less waste because the unmelted powder can be re-used.
  • Less weight because material is only melted where necessary.
  • Less parts they can be combined and printed at once.
  • Personalisation serial number and logos can be printed in the design directly.
  • Short leadtime.
  • Less stock parts can be printed on request and don't have to be kept in stock.
  • Accelerate the designing process of new products, by printing prototypes.
  • More functionality in 1 part more funtions can be combined.
  • Cheaper no expensive tools / dies are needed.

The print process, step by step

  1. A thin layer (20-100 micron) metal power is laid down on top of a buildplate.
  2. Lasers melt / weld this powder together on the positions defined by the 3D CAD model.
  3. The buildplate moves down 1 layer thickness.
  4. Step 1 to 3 is repeated until the last layer is lasered.
  5. The result is a big block of powder with the lasered parts inside.
  6. The powder is removed.
  7. Heat treatments can be executed to releave tension or to improve the mechanical properties.
  8. The parts are removed from the buildplate.
  9. All kinds of post processing are possible for example turning, milling, tumbling en shot peening.
  1. Een dunne laag (20 – 100 micrometer)  metaalpoeder wordt op een bouwplaat neergelegd.
  2. Lasers smelten / lassen dit poeder aan elkaar alleen op de plekken gedefinieerd door het 3D CAD model.
  3. De bouwplaat zakt 1 laagdikte naar beneden.
  4. Stap 1 tot 3 wordt herhaald totdat de laatste laag poeder gelaserd is.
  5. Het resultaat is een groot blok poeder met de gelaserde producten binnenin.
  6. Het poeder wordt verwijderd.
  7. Warmtebehandelingen kunnen uitgevoerd worden om spanningen te ontlaten of de mechanische eigenschappen te verbeteren.
  8. De producten worden van de bouwplaat verwijderd.
  9. Allerlei verschillende nabehandelingen zijn mogelijk zoals draaien, frezen, trommelen, stralen.

Materials

Additional

Through the network of the K3D Printing Technology Centers the following materials will also be available

  • Aluminum (AlSi10Mg)
  • Titanium (Ti6Al4V)
  • Inconel (In718)