3D Printer that Prints Metal:Introduction,Cost

February 29, 2024

Metal 3D printing technology brings many development opportunities for businesses, helping them enhance production efficiency, reduce costs, improve product quality, innovate product design, and achieve sustainability goals. Therefore, an increasing number of companies are opting to purchase 3D printer that prints metal.

What is a metal 3D printer?

A metal 3D printer is an advanced additive manufacturing device that constructs three-dimensional solid parts by depositing and melting metal powder layer by layer. Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, metal 3D printing allows for the direct generation of metal parts from digital models without the need for machining or molds, providing great flexibility in design and manufacturing.

The most common technological routes for metal 3D printing include:

  1. Selective Laser Melting (SLM): High-power laser beams selectively melt pre-laid layers of metal powder, solidifying them into predetermined shapes, with new layers being added and the process repeated until the entire part is complete.
  2. Electron Beam Melting (EBM): Similar to SLM, but using an electron beam as the energy source to melt and solidify metal powder layer by layer.
  3. Binder Jetting: A binder is jetted onto a bed of metal powder instead of directly melting the metal powder, bonding the powder particles together to form the part, followed by subsequent processes such as debinding and sintering.
  4. Direct Energy Deposition (DED): Metal powder or wire is fed into a heat source (such as laser or arc) through a nozzle, directly melting and depositing it onto an existing substrate, suitable for repair or material addition.

Metal 3D printing technology finds widespread applications in industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical, and precision machinery. It is used to rapidly manufacture complex geometric parts, reduce weight, improve performance, and enable personalized customization and rapid prototyping. Due to its high technical barrier and expensive equipment costs, it is generally considered an industrial manufacturing technology that contributes to product innovation and supply chain optimization.

AFS has launched a range of metal 3D printers as follows:

  • Selective Laser Melting Metal Printer AFS-M120
  • Selective Laser Melting Metal Printer AFS-M120X (Functionally Graded Material)
  • Selective Laser Melting Metal Printer AFS-M260
  • Binder Jetting Metal 3D Printer AFS-J400P

To learn about more metal 3d printers and other types of equipment click here.

In addition to metal 3D printers, we also have sand 3D printers that are popular with customers around the world.Please feel free to ask for a quote.

What metal materials can a metal 3D printer print?

Metal 3D printing technology can process various metal and alloy materials to meet the diverse performance and application requirements of different industries.

Here are some common materials used for metal 3D printing:

  1. Stainless Steel: Including types such as 316L, 17-4PH, commonly used to manufacture corrosion-resistant, high-strength parts.
  2. Titanium Alloy: Such as Ti6Al4V (TC4), widely used in aerospace and medical implant fields due to its excellent biocompatibility and strength-to-weight ratio.
  3. Aluminum Alloy: For example, AlSi10Mg, suitable for aircraft structural components and automotive parts manufacturing due to its lightweight characteristics.
  4. Nickel-based Alloy: Such as Inconel 718, known for its high temperature and corrosion resistance, commonly used in aerospace engines and petrochemical industry components.
  5. Cobalt Chromium Alloy: Commonly used in the medical field for manufacturing dental implants and other oral medical devices.
  6. Copper and Copper Alloys: Used for manufacturing parts with high electrical conductivity and wear resistance.
  7. Tool Steel: Such as high-speed steel and martensitic age-hardening steel, used in the manufacture of complex, high-strength, and hardness-required cutting tools and molds.
  8. Precious Metals: Such as gold, silver, and platinum, used for jewelry and certain special-purpose small precision components.
  9. Other Special Alloys: Such as iron-nickel alloys, magnesium alloys, etc., customized and developed according to the requirements of different industries.

With the continuous advancement and development of technology, more and more metal materials are being researched and tested to meet the requirements of 3D printing processes and expand their applications in more fields.

Can regular 3D printers print metal?

Regular desktop 3D printers typically cannot print metal materials. This is because 3D printing of metals usually requires higher temperatures and more specialized processes, such as laser melting, electron beam melting, or binder jetting, which are mostly applied in industrial-grade 3D printing equipment.

Industrial-grade metal 3D printers are specifically designed to handle metal powder or wire, and they can accurately melt and stack metal powder or wire in a controlled environment to form complex three-dimensional metal structures. These devices are expensive, require stringent technical requirements, and need corresponding gas protection measures and efficient cooling systems, which regular desktop 3D printers do not possess.

Therefore, if you want to print metal parts, you generally need to find a service provider with metal 3D printing capabilities or purchase specialized metal 3D printing equipment yourself.

Is 3D printed metal strong?

3D-printed metal parts can be very strong, with strength depending on several key factors:

  1. Printing Material: The materials commonly used in metal 3D printing, such as stainless steel, aluminum alloy, titanium alloy, tool steel, bronze, etc., inherently possess high mechanical strength and durability. Under the right printing conditions, printed metal parts can theoretically achieve the same or even higher strength as conventionally manufactured parts made of the same material.
  2. Printing Process: Metal 3D printing technologies such as Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Electron Beam Melting (EBM), Direct Energy Deposition (DED), or Binder Jetting can ensure that metal powder or wire is melted and solidified into dense metallurgical bonds layer by layer. With appropriate process parameters, the density of printed metal parts can be close to 100%, ensuring strength.
  3. Infill Ratio: Metal 3D printed parts do not necessarily have to be solid (depending on the part’s structure); different internal fill structures such as honeycomb or lattice can be set to save material and reduce weight while maintaining sufficient structural strength. 100% infill means the printed part is completely solid inside, resulting in optimal strength.
  4. Post-Processing: Printed metal parts usually require post-processing such as annealing, quenching, etc., to improve microstructure and relieve internal stresses, further enhancing the mechanical properties of the material.
  5. Design Optimization: 3D printing technology supports complex geometric shapes and internal structure designs. Through generative design and topology optimization methods, lightweight and sufficiently strong parts can be designed.

In conclusion, if all conditions are properly controlled and optimized, 3D-printed metal parts can be very strong and suitable for many high-end industrial applications, including aerospace, automotive, medical implants, etc. However, it is essential to consider factors such as printing parameters, material quality, design rationality, and post-processing, as they are crucial in determining the final product quality.

How much does a 3D metal printer cost?

The price of a metal 3D printer depends on various factors, with a wide price range from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand dollars or more.

Here’s an article with a deeper look at costs, click for it.

Specific price ranges mainly depend on the following factors:

  1. Printer Type: Entry-level or desktop metal 3D printers may cost around $50,000 to $100,000, while professional or industrial-grade 3D printers typically exceed $100,000, with prices reaching over $500,000 or even millions.
  2. Technological Level: Different 3D printing technologies can also affect the price. For example, Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Metal Binder Jetting(MBJ), Electron Beam Melting (EBM), Direct Energy Deposition (DED), etc. The higher the technological level, the higher the equipment cost.
  3. Brand and Quality: Internationally renowned brands and high-quality metal 3D printers have relatively higher prices due to factors such as R&D costs, patented technologies, and after-sales services.
  4. Features and Size: Printers capable of printing larger sizes and more complex parts will have correspondingly higher prices.

In summary, if you consider purchasing a 3D metal printer for printing metal parts, the budget should be at least $50,000 or more, and you should choose the appropriate model and technical specifications according to your actual needs. For specific latest market prices, it is recommended to directly consult relevant manufacturers or refer to the latest market price information.

Where can you buy a metal 3D printer?

Metal 3D printers can be purchased through various channels.

Common channels include:

  1. Professional manufacturers
  2. E-commerce platforms
  3. B2B trading platforms
  4. Agents and distributors
  5. Exhibitions and offline stores
  6. Online official stores

When purchasing a metal 3D printer, you need to consider the following points:

7. Needs Analysis: Ensure that you understand your needs and choose a printer model suitable for your application. Different metal 3D printers may have different printing sizes, material applicability, and printing technologies.

8. Quality and Performance: Choose reliable brands and high-quality equipment to ensure printing quality and reliability.

9. Technical Support and Training: Consider the technical support and training services provided by the supplier. Understand whether they provide training courses, technical support, and maintenance services.

10. Cost Consideration: In addition to the price of the equipment itself, you also need to consider factors such as material costs, maintenance costs, and subsequent expenses.

11. User Reviews and Recommendations: Check other users’ reviews and recommendations to understand the advantages and disadvantages of different brands and models of metal 3D printers, thus making a more informed choice.

12. Legal and Safety Considerations: Metal 3D printing involves high temperatures and metal powder materials, strict adherence to safety standards, and understanding of relevant legal requirements to ensure safe operation of the equipment and environment.

In summary, choosing a metal 3D printer that suits your needs and budget requires careful consideration of various factors and thorough market research and comparison.

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Longyuan AFS Co., Ltd. is a leading provider of 3D printing equipment and manufacturing services in China, providing high-quality R&D pilot production and rapid manufacturing services for small-lot, multi-species and complex structure metal products based on the integrated technology of "3D printing, casting, machining and inspection".

  • Email: sales@lyafs.com
  • Phone:+86 13299265105
  • Add: No.7 Jin Yi Street, Shunyi District, Beijing, China.