Metal 3D printing is now primarily for professionals. It opens up new possibilities for many industries. Grand View Research’s study found that the market value for metal 3D printing in 2022 was already $4.06B. However, this value will rise to $22.60B in 2030 according to Grand View Research. DMLS, which stands for Direct Metal Laser Melting, is a notable example. This process was first invented by EOS in 1994 and is used across all industries, including aerospace and medicine. It combines the benefits of metal 3D printing and high quality, repeatable parts.
Like other additive manufacturing technologies DMLS technology also requires support structures (supports). EOS has created a variety of solutions that allow metal 3D printing complex geometries using a drastically reduced number of support structures to take the technology further and make it more accessible for all users. Because supports in metal 3D printing can take more time, materials, and effort during post-processing,
The Challenges Associated with Support Structures for Metal 3D Printering
DMLS technology users today will find it normal to need support for the parts they want. It is only then that it is possible to 3D-print geometries with much more complicated and detailed designs. This includes the creation of smaller overhangs than 30 degrees, complete bridges, or recesses within the component. Without support structures, all of these geometries could deform.
Supports are created during design and can be manually or automatically removed after 3D printing. We can see that adding supports is required for many parts. But, they also present some problems which are reflected in the costs. This innovative technology allows 3D printing with metals to be done with less support structures thanks to the DMLS process.
EOS supports its customers in the implementation of support-free 3D printing
To fully benefit from support-free 3D printing, there are three key factors that must be considered: the process itself, the tools used and the knowledge required. EOS provides an excellent example of support-free DMLS3Dprinting using an impeller. Because of its complicated geometries, it normally requires support structures. Support-free printing is more difficult because each impeller can have large differences in diameters, blade counts, and covers. EOS states that it is essential to have the right knowledge and to communicate this information at all levels.
To be able 3D print metal with very few supports, you need to have additive thinking. This can be achieved by anything from training to consulting. This knowledge is crucial in areas such as design, layout and material. Smart Fusion, which should be soon available, is an essential piece of the puzzle for support-free metal 3D printers. This tool can adjust the energy input of the laser to the geometry and reduce thermal stresses. Reduced support structures in metal-based additive manufacture can result in shorter build times and less effort in post-processing. This will also help you save material.
“Even though we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in support-free 3D printing, you are still dealing with real physics and therefore not everything is possible. Our solution is a game-changer. We are both excited about the potential of the technology and so are our customers, both pilots and customers who have already tested it with us. I would say challenge us – we are ready to innovate metal 3D printing together,” Davy Orye is now the team leader at Additive Minds Consultants.
With the help of additive manufacturing of metals that is free of support, huge progress can be made. This also explains why metal 3D printing is so attractive. A cost analysis of the impeller shows that 35% could be saved. These savings can be seen in areas such as post-processing, construction time and material. On the other hand, the costs and effort required to design the process with few support structures rose from 8 to 14%. Additionally, 3D printing without support is more cost-efficient and produces less waste. Users are not required to perform any post-processing such as cutting and grinding. The whitepaper by EOS can be downloaded HERE if you are interested in learning more about 3D printing with support-free metal.
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*Cover Photo Credits: EOS GmbH (hip stems produced by optimizing the Ti64 process on an EOS M 300-4 for 100% support-free manufacturing).