SLM (Selective Laser Melting) 3D printers are an advanced manufacturing technology that builds up layers of laser-melted metal powders to achieve high-precision and complex-structured metal part manufacturing. This technology is widely used in the industrial and professional sectors, enabling manufacturers to achieve rapid prototyping, small batch production and personalisation, with great benefits for businesses, from part performance to productivity gains.

What is Selective Laser Melting?

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is an additive manufacturing (3D printing) technology that is a form of metal 3D printing. During selective laser melting, a high-energy laser beam is used to scan and melt metal powder layer by layer to gradually build complex three-dimensional metal parts.SLM is an advanced metal 3D printing technology that provides an efficient and accurate method for manufacturing complex metal parts. As materials and processes continue to improve, it is expected that SLM technology will be used in a wider range of fields and bring more innovation and growth opportunities to the manufacturing industry.

What is a Selective Laser Melting 3d Printer?

A Selective Laser Melting 3D printer is a 3D printing device that uses Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology. It is a metal 3D printing technology that converts digital design files directly into metal parts.

A Selective Laser Melting 3D printer works on the same principle as Selective Laser Melting technology. It uses a high-energy laser beam to scan and melt metal powder to build metal parts layer by layer. Selective laser fusion 3d printers can build complex metal parts with high precision, good mechanical properties and material characteristics.

Selective Laser Melting 3D Printer
Selective Laser Melting Metal Printer AFS-M120 | Ask for a quote

How does selective laser fusion 3d printing work?

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) 3D printers work as follows:

With these steps, selective laser fusion 3D printers can build metal parts with complex geometries layer by layer. Accurate control of the laser and precise layer-by-layer build-up allows the printer to create metal parts with high precision, good material properties and complex internal structures.

Selective Laser Melting VS Selective Laser Sintering

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) are two common metal 3D printing technologies that have some differences in their working principles and applications.

Working Principle:

SLM: SLM uses a high-energy laser beam to melt metal powders directly into a liquid state, which is then solidified by rapid solidification to form a solid metal part. The laser irradiation energy is sufficient to completely melt the metal powder and bond it to the previous layer.

SLS: SLS uses a high-energy laser beam to heat thermoplastic or sinterable powders (including plastic, ceramic, or metal powders) to near the melting point, but not to complete melting. The powder particles are bonded together by heat to form a solid part.

Material Selection:

SLM: SLM is mainly used for metallic materials such as stainless steel, titanium alloys, aluminium alloys and nickel-based alloys. It is suitable for metallic materials with high melting point and high reactivity.

·SLS: SLS can be used on a wide range of materials, including plastics, ceramics and metals. It is suitable for thermoplastic or sinterable powders, enabling a wider choice of materials.

application areas:

SLM: Due to its ability to create metal parts with high strength, precision and complex shapes, SLM is widely used in aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and manufacturing. It has advantages in the manufacture of complex parts, moulds, prototypes and personalised products.

·SLS: SLS technology is suitable for the manufacture of plastics, ceramics and composites. It has a wide range of applications in rapid prototyping, small batch production, manufacturing of functional parts and preparation of complex structures.

Overall, SLM and SLS are two different 3D printing technologies that differ in material selection and application areas.SLM is suitable for precision manufacturing of metallic materials, while SLS is suitable for manufacturing of thermoplastic or sinterable materials. Depending on the specific application requirements and material selection, choosing the right technology can lead to the desired part manufacturing.

Advantages of Selective Laser Melting 3D Printing?

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) 3D printing offers several advantages:

  1. Complex Geometries: SLM allows for the manufacture of parts with highly complex geometries, including internal cavities, curves, and thin-walled structures. Since it is a layer-by-layer build process, it is possible to achieve almost any shape without the limitations of traditional manufacturing methods.
  2. High accuracy and precision: SLM allows for very high accuracy and dimensional control, typically in the tens of microns range. This makes SLM suitable for manufacturing applications with stringent dimensional requirements and high-precision parts, such as aerospace and medical fields.
  3. Material Versatility: SLM can use a wide range of metal materials such as stainless steel, titanium alloys, aluminium alloys, nickel-based alloys, and more. This material versatility makes SLM ideal for parts that can be manufactured with excellent mechanical properties and special material characteristics.
  4. High Strength and Excellent Properties: Because SLM uses metallic materials and builds parts by completely melting and solidifying them, the resulting parts typically have high strength and excellent mechanical properties. This makes SLM suitable for applications that need to withstand high loads and harsh environments.
  5. Rapid manufacturing and customisation: SLM offers faster production speeds compared to traditional manufacturing methods. It allows complex parts to be manufactured in a short period of time, resulting in faster product development and production cycles. In addition, SLM allows customisation to meet specific customer requirements.
  6. Reducing waste and costs: SLM is an additive manufacturing technology that allows parts to be manufactured on demand, reducing material waste and inventory costs. It can also combine multiple parts into a single complex assembly, reducing the number of connections between parts and assembly processes.

In summary, selective laser fusion 3D printing technology offers the advantages of manufacturing complex geometries, high accuracy, multiple material options, excellent performance, rapid manufacturing and customisation. This makes it an attractive manufacturing method in many fields, driving innovation and productivity.

What are the application areas of Selective Laser Melting Additive Manufacturing?

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) Additive Manufacturing technology has a wide range of applications in many fields. The following are some typical application areas:

  1. Aerospace: SLM can be used to manufacture complex components in aerospace, such as combustion chambers, fuel nozzles, turbine blades and structural supports. It enables lightweight design and optimised internal structure, improving part performance and fuel efficiency.
  2. Medical sector: SLM can be used to manufacture medical devices, implants and artificial joints, among others. It allows personalised design and customised manufacturing to meet specific patient needs. In addition, SLM can manufacture medical parts with complex structures and biocompatibility.
  3. Automotive industry: SLM can be used in several aspects of automotive manufacturing, including engine components, braking systems, driveline systems and chassis structures. Through the use of SLM, lightweight designs, optimised internal structures and performance improvements can be achieved, resulting in improved fuel efficiency and vehicle performance.
  4. Energy industry: SLM can be used to manufacture gas turbine generator components, fuel cell parts and solar cell components, among others. It enables complex infusion channels, optimised heat dissipation structures and high-efficiency energy conversion devices.
  5. Manufacturing: SLM can be used to manufacture tools and moulds such as injection moulds, die-casting moulds and extrusion dies. It enables complex internal channels and cooling structures to improve mould performance and manufacturing efficiency.
  6. Art and design: SLM can be used to manufacture artwork, jewellery and personalised decorations, among others. It allows for free-form designs and complex structural representations, providing artists and designers with more creative possibilities.

In addition to the above areas, SLM has applications in shipbuilding, electronics, defence and aerospace components. As the technology develops and material choices continue to expand, SLM is expected to continue to play an important role in many more fields.

What materials are commonly used for Selective Laser Melting 3D printing?

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) 3D printing technology can be manufactured using a wide range of materials. The following are some of the commonly used materials:

  1. Stainless Steel: Stainless steel is one of the most common SLM materials. It has good mechanical properties, corrosion resistance and high temperature resistance. Commonly used stainless steel materials include 316L, 17-4 PH, 15-5 PH, and so on.
  2. Titanium Alloy: Titanium alloys are widely used in aerospace, medical and automotive applications. They have high strength, low density and good biocompatibility. Common titanium alloy materials include Ti6Al4V (also known as Ti-64) and Ti6Al4V ELI.
  3. Aluminum Alloy (Aluminum Alloy): Aluminum alloys are lightweight and have good thermal conductivity, making them suitable for use in areas such as aerospace, automotive and electronics. Commonly used aluminium alloy materials include AlSi10Mg and AlSi7Mg.
  4. Nickel-Based Alloy: Nickel-based alloys have excellent high-temperature, corrosion and abrasion resistance and are suitable for applications in high-temperature environments such as the aerospace and energy industries. Common nickel-based alloys include Inconel 718, Inconel 625 and Hastelloy X. 5.
  5. Copper Alloys (Copper Alloy): Copper alloys have good electrical and thermal conductivity and are suitable for use in the electronics, thermal conductivity and electrical industries. Common copper alloy materials include CuCr1Zr and CuNi2SiCr.

In addition to the above materials, there are some other commonly used SLM materials, such as tungsten alloy, cobalt-chromium alloy, and martensitic stainless steel. With the further development of SLM technology, new materials are emerging, providing options for a wider range of applications. It is important to select the right material to meet performance requirements and manufacturing goals based on specific application needs.

Selective Laser Melting 3D Printer Quote

Prices for Selective Laser Melting (SLM) 3D printers vary by supplier, model and configuration. These printers are typically used in a wide range of industrial and professional applications and are therefore more expensive. Here are some reference price ranges:

  1. Entry-level printers: entry-level SLM 3D printers typically cost between $10,000 and $50,000. These printers are suitable for small businesses or startups with a smaller modelling area and lower throughput.
  2. Mid-range printers: Mid-range SLM 3D printers typically cost between $50,000 and $150,000. These printers have a larger modelling area, higher throughput and more feature options for medium scale production needs.
  3. High-end printers: High-end SLM 3D printers typically cost more than $150,000 and can reach millions of dollars. These printers have the largest modelling area, highest throughput and most advanced features for mass production and professional applications.

It is important to note that the above prices are for reference only, and actual prices may vary depending on factors such as supplier, geographic location, and additional options. Also, in addition to the cost of purchasing the printer itself, other costs such as material costs, maintenance costs and training should be considered.

How to buy the right SLM 3d printer?

When it comes to Selective Laser Melting (SLM) 3D printers, here is some more information to help you make your decision:

When choosing an SLM 3D printer, it is best to communicate with multiple vendors for detailed product information, technical support and services. Also consider visiting trade shows and exhibitions to observe and interact with suppliers in person. This will help you make an informed decision and choose the right printer for your needs and budget.

AFS focus on 3D printing equipment and rapid manufacturing services, the company has nearly 30 years of 3D printing industry, launched a series of 3D printers, including sand 3D printer (binder jetting process, SLS process), metal 3D printer, wax mould 3D printer, etc., at present, a large number of applications with major enterprises, colleges and universities and scientific research institutes, and at the same time, has been working with the global enterprises. The price of 3D printing equipment varies by country, region and configuration. If you need to buy or become an agent, you can click here to contact us.

Sand casting is a time-honored manufacturing method that has been used for centuries to create metal parts and components. It involves the creation of molds made from compacted sand, into which molten metal is poured to form the desired shape. Sand casting has been widely employed due to its versatility, cost-effectiveness, and ability to produce large and complex objects.

However, conventional sand casting processes come with their own set of limitations and challenges. One of the major limitations is the difficulty in achieving intricate and complex geometries, as traditional molds often struggle to replicate intricate details accurately. Additionally, the manual labor involved in creating patterns and molds can be time-consuming and costly. Furthermore, the lead times for producing molds and prototypes can be lengthy, hampering the speed of product development and time-to-market.

casting method with 3D printing technology 2023

These challenges highlight the need for innovation and alternative approaches to sand casting. Fortunately, the emergence of 3D printing technology has revolutionized the sand casting process, presenting a promising solution to overcome these limitations and enhance the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the foundry industry. By harnessing the power of 3D printing, manufacturers can now achieve greater design freedom, faster production cycles, improved quality, and expanded possibilities in sand casting.

1. The Emergence of 3D Printing in Sand Casting:

The integration of 3D printing technology in the field of sand casting has brought about a revolution in the foundry industry. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, offers numerous advantages and possibilities for enhancing the sand casting process.

By harnessing the capabilities of 3D printing, manufacturers can leverage increased design freedom, reduced lead times, and cost savings in the sand casting process. The ability to produce complex geometries and intricate internal structures opens up new possibilities for innovation and optimization in various industries that rely on sand casting for manufacturing metal components.

The following is AFS launched three sand 3D printer, currently in the global foundry industry has been widely praised, interested parties can pay attention to.

2. Design Optimization and Iteration:

3D printing technology empowers designers and engineers to optimize and iterate their designs specifically for sand casting, leading to improved part performance and enhanced manufacturing efficiency.

Through design optimization, the ability to create lightweight structures and integrated features, and the reduction of material waste and post-processing requirements, 3D printing enables designers and engineers to push the boundaries of what is possible in sand casting. This results in improved part performance, enhanced manufacturing efficiency, and overall cost savings in the production process.

3. Faster Prototyping and Production:

The integration of 3D printing technology in sand casting brings significant advancements in the speed and efficiency of both prototyping and production processes.

By leveraging 3D printing technology, manufacturers can benefit from the rapid production of patternless molds, reduced tooling and setup costs, and faster iteration cycles. These advantages contribute to shorter lead times, accelerated prototyping, and streamlined production processes, ultimately enabling companies to bring their products to market faster and more efficiently.

4. Improved Quality and Precision:

The integration of 3D printing technology in sand casting brings significant improvements in the quality and precision of the castings produced.

By leveraging 3D printing technology in sand casting, manufacturers can achieve enhanced dimensional accuracy, reduce the risk of human error, and produce complex cores and molds with intricate details. These advancements lead to improved surface finishes, higher part quality, and overall consistency in the quality of the castings produced.

5. Applications and Future Prospects:

Overall, the integration of 3D printing technology in sand casting has already demonstrated significant benefits in various industries. The potential for customized production, small-batch manufacturing, and ongoing advancements in materials and process optimization pave the way for an exciting future in which 3D printing will continue to enhance the sand casting process and redefine the possibilities of metal component manufacturing.

In conclusion, 3D printing in sand casting offers numerous advantages that are revolutionizing the traditional foundry industry:

The transformative impact of 3D printing technology on the traditional foundry industry is evident. It disrupts conventional practices, streamlines workflows, and reduces costs. The reliance on manual labor decreases, while precision and consistency increase, leading to increased manufacturing efficiency and improved competitiveness.

Looking forward, the growth and potential of 3D printing for sand casting remain promising. Advancements in materials, multi-material printing, and process optimization will further enhance its capabilities. As a result, the technology will continue to gain traction in various industries, enabling the production of complex, customized parts with higher quality and faster production cycles. The future of 3D printing for sand casting is bright, reshaping the landscape of metal component manufacturing and driving innovation in the foundry industry.

Binder Jetting is an innovative 3D printing technology, known for its fast and efficient manufacturing method. It is widely used in the production of complex metal parts, ceramic objects, and sand molds and cores. In this paper, we will comprehensively explore the advantages, applications, and differences of Binder Jetting compared to other 3D printing processes. Whether you are a manufacturing professional or a reader interested in 3D printing technology, this article will provide you with the most comprehensive details of the Binder Jetting process.

What is binder jetting?

Each 3D printing process has its strengths and limitations, and the choice depends on the specific requirements of the application, material properties, and desired outcomes.

What are the types of binder jetting?

There are several types of binder jetting processes used in additive manufacturing. Here are some of the commonly known types:

Metal Binder Jetting: This process involves selectively depositing a binder onto metal powder layers to bind them together. It is often used for producing metal parts with complex geometries. Here is an article introducing metal binder jetting.

Metal binder jetting green parts
Metal binder jetting green parts
Metal Binder Jetting 3D-Printer | AFS 400P
Metal binder jetting 3d printer

Sand Binder Jetting: In sand binder jetting, a binder is selectively deposited onto layers of sand or ceramic powder. This process is commonly used for creating sand molds and cores used in metal casting processes.To understand the sand 3D printer (binder jetting), click here.Currently, we are mainly promoting this sand 3D printer.

3D Printing Sand Molds (Binder jetting)
AFS J1600 Pro sand 3d printer
Sand 3d printer (Binder jetting)

Polymer Binder Jetting: Polymer binder jetting uses a binder material to selectively bind layers of polymer powder. It is used for producing plastic parts and prototypes.

Ceramic Binder Jetting: Ceramic binder jetting involves selectively depositing a binder onto ceramic powder layers. This process is used to create ceramic parts, such as prototypes, molds, and functional components.

Composite Binder Jetting: Composite binder jetting combines different materials, such as polymers and metals or ceramics, to create composite parts with unique properties. It allows for the fabrication of structures with varying material compositions.

These are some of the main types of binder jetting processes, each suited for different materials and applications. The technology continues to advance, and new variations and combinations may emerge in the future as the field of additive manufacturing evolves.

How does binder jetting work?

Binder Jetting Process Steps

  1. Preparation

    Material Selection and Preparation:
    The first step in the Binder Jetting process is to select the appropriate materials based on the desired properties of the final object. This can include metals, ceramics, polymers, or composites in powdered form. The materials are prepared by ensuring they meet specific requirements, such as particle size distribution, purity, and any necessary pre-treatments or surface coatings.

    Digital Modeling and Slicing:
    The next step involves creating a digital model of the object using computer-aided design (CAD) software. The digital model represents the desired shape and dimensions of the object. Once the digital model is ready, it is sliced into thin layers using slicing software. Each layer is defined by a set of instructions that the printer will follow during the printing process.

  2. Preparation before Printing

    Print Bed and Powder Layer Preparation:
    The print bed, typically a platform that can be raised or lowered, is prepared for printing. The print bed is calibrated to ensure proper alignment and levelness. A thin layer of powdered material is spread evenly across the print bed using a roller or similar mechanism. The thickness of the powder layer is controlled to ensure precise layering during printing.

    Preparation of Binder Jetting System:
    The Binder Jetting system, which includes the printhead or dispensing mechanism, is prepared for printing. The system is calibrated to ensure accurate deposition of the binding agent. The binding agent, usually a liquid binder, is loaded into the system. The printer parameters, such as droplet size and deposition speed, are set according to the specific requirements of the printing job.
  3. Binder Jetting Process

    Injecting and Bonding of Powder Layers:
    The printing process begins with the selective deposition of the binding agent onto the powdered material layer. The binding agent is injected or dispensed onto the powder bed in a controlled manner, binding the powder particles together in the desired pattern for each layer. The binding agent acts as a binder, solidifying the powder particles upon contact and creating a cohesive layer.

    Layer-by-Layer Object Building:
    After the binding agent is applied, the print bed is lowered (or the printhead is raised) to make room for the next layer. The process of injecting and bonding the powder layers is repeated for each layer, following the instructions from the sliced digital model. This layer-by-layer approach gradually builds up the object until the entire 3D structure is formed.
  4. Post-processing Steps

    Drying and Curing:
    Once the printing process is complete, the printed object may undergo post-processing steps. Excess binding agent and any residual moisture are removed through drying. Depending on the specific materials used, the printed object may also undergo curing, which involves subjecting it to heat or UV light to strengthen and solidify the part.

    High-Temperature Treatment (Optional):
    In some cases, an optional step of high-temperature treatment may be performed. This involves subjecting the printed object to elevated temperatures to further enhance its mechanical properties, such as increased strength or improved dimensional stability. The specific temperature and duration of the treatment depend on the materials used and the desired outcome.

    Note: If metal binder jetting is used to produce parts, after printing, they need to be placed in a specialized oven for high-temperature sintering and debinding before they can form the final usable parts.

    Surface Treatment and Subsequent Processing:
    After drying and curing, the printed object may undergo surface treatment processes to improve its appearance or functionality. This can include sanding, polishing, or applying coatings. Depending on the application and desired specifications, additional subsequent processing steps such as machining or assembly may be performed to complete the final product.
Metal Binder Jetting: Sintering and Debinding.

Advantages and Application Areas of Binder Jetting

Advantages

Binder Jetting is a versatile 3D printing process that offers several advantages, making it a valuable technology in various industries. Here are the key advantages of Binder Jetting:

Fast Print Speeds:
Binder Jetting is known for its rapid printing speeds compared to other 3D printing processes. The ability to selectively deposit a binding agent onto powdered material allows for the simultaneous solidification of multiple layers, significantly reducing print times. This makes Binder Jetting ideal for time-sensitive projects or high-volume production.

Realization of Complex Geometries:
Binder Jetting enables the creation of complex and intricate geometries that would be challenging or impossible to achieve through traditional manufacturing methods. The layer-by-layer construction process allows for the fabrication of intricate internal structures, overhangs, and intricate details with high precision. This design freedom opens up new possibilities for innovative and optimized product designs.

Printing of a Wide Range of Materials:
Binder Jetting is capable of printing a wide range of materials, including metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. This versatility makes it suitable for various applications across industries. Different materials can be used to achieve specific properties such as strength, flexibility, heat resistance, or electrical conductivity. The ability to print multiple materials in a single object further expands the potential applications and functionality of printed parts.

Cost-Effective Production:
Binder Jetting offers cost advantages in terms of material usage and production scalability. The process typically uses powdered materials, which can be more cost-effective than solid materials used in other manufacturing processes. Additionally, Binder Jetting can be easily scaled for mass production, making it suitable for industrial manufacturing applications.

Reduced Waste:
Binder Jetting generates less waste compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Excess powder can be recycled and reused, minimizing material waste. Additionally, the layer-by-layer construction process allows for efficient material usage, reducing the need for post-processing and minimizing material waste.

Customization and Personalization:
Binder Jetting enables customization and personalization of products at a large scale. It allows for the production of unique, one-of-a-kind items or small-batch productions tailored to specific requirements. This customization potential is particularly beneficial for industries such as medical, dental, and consumer goods, where personalized products are in high demand.

What is binder jetting used for?(Areas of application)

Binder Jetting has a wide range of application areas, including:

Metal Fabrication and Casting:
Binder Jetting is commonly used in metal fabrication and casting processes. It enables the production of complex metal parts with intricate geometries that may be difficult or costly to achieve through traditional manufacturing methods. Binder Jetting allows for the creation of metal prototypes, small-batch production, and even large-scale manufacturing of metal components for various industries, including aerospace, automotive, and medical.

Binder jetting 3D printing enables green rapid casting


Rapid Prototyping:
Binder Jetting is well-suited for rapid prototyping due to its ability to quickly produce physical models directly from digital designs. It enables engineers, designers, and manufacturers to iterate and test their designs efficiently, reducing the time and cost associated with traditional prototyping methods. The speed, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness of Binder Jetting make it a valuable tool for rapid prototyping across different industries.

Industrial Manufacturing and Customized Production:
Binder Jetting is increasingly used in industrial manufacturing for customized production. It allows for the production of complex, customized parts with unique geometries, such as personalized medical implants, dental prosthetics, or tailored jewelry. By utilizing Binder Jetting, manufacturers can produce small to medium-sized batches of customized products economically, catering to specific customer needs and preferences.

Tooling and Jigs:
Binder Jetting can be utilized to produce tooling and jigs used in various manufacturing processes. Tooling such as molds, patterns, and fixtures can be quickly and cost-effectively produced through Binder Jetting, reducing lead times and costs associated with traditional tooling methods. This application area is particularly beneficial for low-volume production or situations where frequent design changes or customization are required.

Architectural and Artistic Applications:
Binder Jetting finds application in architecture and art, enabling the creation of intricate and visually appealing structures, sculptures, and models. Its ability to produce complex geometries and fine details allows artists, architects, and designers to explore innovative designs and bring their creative visions to life.

Education and Research:
Binder Jetting is widely used in educational institutions and research facilities as a tool for teaching, experimentation, and exploration. It provides students, researchers, and scientists with hands-on experience in 3D printing technology and facilitates the development of new materials, processes, and applications.

These are some prominent application areas of Binder Jetting, and the technology continues to evolve, opening up new possibilities in various industries and sectors.

Metal Binder Jetting 3D Printing parts
AFS Metal Binder Jetting 3D Printing parts

Challenges and Advances in Binder Jetting

Overall, Binder Jetting technology is continually advancing to address the challenges associated with material selection, cost, production scale, and process optimization. Ongoing research and development efforts aim to expand the range of materials, improve printing speed and accuracy, enhance material performance, and optimize post-processing steps, making Binder Jetting more accessible, cost-effective, and capable of meeting a broader range of application requirements.

Metal binder jetting is a revolutionary additive manufacturing technology that has gained significant traction in recent years. With its high speed, precision, and cost-effectiveness, this technology has the potential to transform the manufacturing industry. In this article, we will explore the origins and advancements of metal binder jetting, its post-processing steps, and the latest developments in the field.

Binder jetting 3d printer

Origins of Metal Binder Jetting

The roots of metal binder jetting can be traced back to 1993 when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed an inkjet-based process for creating three-dimensional objects using metal powders. It was during this time that the term “3D printing” was coined by MIT in reference to metal binder jetting technology. The manufacturing company Extrude Hone Corporation obtained an exclusive license for this technology in 1996 and went on to develop and commercialize metal binder jetting systems.

What is metal binder jetting? How does it work?

Metal Binder Jetting is a metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology that utilizes powdered materials and a binding agent to create three-dimensional printed metal parts. The process involves spreading a thin layer of metal powder onto a build platform and selectively applying the binding agent using a printhead in specific areas. The binding agent causes the metal powder to coalesce and form a solid structure. This process is repeated layer by layer until the entire metal part or mold is completed.

After printing, the metal binder jetted parts require post-processing steps. This may include removing excess powder, sintering, or heat treatment to improve part density and mechanical properties. Surface finishing and machining steps may also be performed to achieve the desired accuracy and surface quality, depending on the application requirements.

Metal Binder Jetting technology offers several advantages, including the ability to produce complex geometries, high production speeds, no need for support structures, high material utilization, and the ability to use various metal materials. It finds wide-ranging applications in aerospace, automotive, medical devices, and other industries for rapid prototyping, small-batch production, and customization. However, Metal Binder Jetting also presents challenges that require further research and improvement, such as control over part density, surface quality, and mechanical properties.

metal powder
Metal powder
Binder jet moulding
Binder jet moulding
Degreasing sintering
Degreasing sintering
Metal Parts
Metal Parts

Post-Processing Steps for Metal Binder Jetting

  1. Curing: Curing is the first post-processing step for metal binder jetting. It involves increasing the strength of the green parts so that they can be safely removed from the printing bed. During the curing process, the parts are hardened in an oven at around 200°C for several hours, resulting in much stronger parts.
  2. Sintering: Despite the curing process, the metal parts remain highly porous. Sintering is the next step to reduce the porosity of the parts. The parts are heat-treated in a controlled atmosphere furnace at approximately 100°C for 24-36 hours, causing the binding agent to burn away and the metal particles to fuse together. This results in strong metal parts with low porosity. However, it is important to consider non-homogenous shrinkage during the sintering process.
  3. Infiltration: To achieve high density, the sintered parts need to be infiltrated to fill the voids left by the burned binding agent. This is typically done by applying molten bronze to infiltrate the remaining voids in the part. Infiltration significantly enhances the mechanical properties of the metal parts.
  4. Finishing: The final optional step in the post-processing of metal binder jetted parts is finishing. This involves polishing the part and plating it with gold or nickel, resulting in aesthetically pleasing surface finishes.

These post-processing steps are crucial for enhancing the mechanical properties and surface finish of metal binder jetted parts, making them suitable for various applications.

How long to metal binder jetting parts sinter?

The duration for sintering metal binder jetting parts can vary depending on several factors, including the specific material being used, part size and complexity, sintering equipment, and process parameters. Generally, the sintering process for metal binder jetted parts can take several hours to complete.

During sintering, the parts are heated to a temperature below the melting point of the metal powder, allowing the powder particles to fuse together. The sintering temperature and time are carefully controlled to ensure proper densification and mechanical properties of the final part.

The sintering time can range from a few hours to several tens of hours, with larger and more complex parts typically requiring longer sintering times. Additionally, the sintering cycle may include heating, dwell time at the sintering temperature, and cooling stages.

It’s important to note that the specific sintering time for metal binder jetting parts may be determined through experimentation and optimization for each material and application, considering factors such as part requirements, sintering equipment capabilities, and desired properties of the final part.

Metal binder jet degreasing sintering

Advantages of Metal Binder Jetting as a Production Technology

Metal binder jetting offers several unique advantages that make it an appealing production technology. Firstly, unlike other metal 3D printing processes, metal binder jetting does not involve melting the metal powder, eliminating issues related to residual stresses. Additionally, since printed parts are surrounded by loose, unused powder, no support structures are required, reducing the need for post-processing.

Furthermore, metal binder jetting machines are less expensive than 3D printers based on other metal additive manufacturing processes, as they do not require costly lasers or electron beams. The ability to use Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) powders, which are cheaper and more readily available, further lowers operating costs.

Metal binder jetting also allows for the production of highly accurate parts with mechanical properties comparable to those of traditionally manufactured metal components. The speed of the process is another advantage, making it a scalable and production-capable technology.

Recent Developments in Metal Binder Jetting

In recent years, a number of companies have been at the forefront of developments in metal binder jetting technology. Let’s take a closer look at one of the more typical Chinese 3D printing equipment manufacturers.

AFS: Innovating Metal Binder Jetting

AFS is a leading enterprise in 3D printing technology in China and has a widely distributed service network. The holding company 3DP Tech Inc has been granted 300+ patents, 3 national standards, and 5 national R&D projects.

AFS specializes in 3DP sand molding, binder jet metal printing, and other cutting edging additive manufacturing technologies. A wide range of products, including equipment, material and industrial solutions, are available for the market.

AFS solutions are oriented for rapid manufacturing of complex metal parts, or small to medium batches, typically 1~200 items. The novel solution is agile and accurate compared to conventional CNC and other molding processes. The business is spread widely across aerospace, automobiles, ships, pumps and valves, construction machinery, scientific research and education industries.

Click here to learn more about AFS’s 3d printing equipment

The Future of Metal Binder Jetting

Metal binder jetting, a revolutionary additive manufacturing technique, has gained significant traction in recent years. With its ability to produce complex metal parts with high precision and efficiency, metal binder jetting is poised to shape the future of manufacturing. This article explores the advancements, opportunities, and potential applications that lie ahead for metal binder jetting.

Enhanced Material Selection:

The future of metal binder jetting lies in expanding the range of materials available for printing. Researchers and industry experts are actively exploring new metal alloys, composites, and blends that can be utilized in binder jetting processes. This will enable the production of components with improved mechanical properties, such as increased strength, thermal resistance, and corrosion resistance.

Improved Printing Speed and Scale:

Advancements in hardware and software technology are expected to significantly enhance the speed and scalability of metal binder jetting. Faster printing speeds and larger build volumes will enable the production of larger and more complex metal parts in a shorter timeframe. This will unlock opportunities for rapid prototyping, mass customization, and on-demand manufacturing.

Post-Processing Innovations:

Post-processing plays a crucial role in the final quality of metal binder jetted parts. Future developments will focus on refining post-processing techniques to further improve surface finish, dimensional accuracy, and mechanical properties. Innovations in sintering, heat treatment, and surface finishing processes will ensure that metal binder jetted parts meet the stringent requirements of various industries.

Integration of In-Situ Monitoring and Quality Control:

To ensure the reliability and consistency of metal binder jetting processes, in-situ monitoring and quality control systems will be integrated into the printing workflow. Real-time monitoring of powder bed, binder deposition, and part consolidation will allow for immediate detection and correction of any defects or anomalies. This will enhance process control, reduce waste, and improve overall production efficiency.

Expanding Applications:

As metal binder jetting technology continues to evolve, its applications will expand across industries. Aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and tooling sectors will increasingly benefit from the unique capabilities of metal binder jetting. The production of lightweight, complex geometries, and customized metal parts will drive innovation and cost-effective manufacturing solutions.

Sustainability and Material Efficiency:

The future of metal binder jetting also aligns with sustainability goals. Efforts will focus on optimizing material usage and recycling processes, reducing waste generation, and minimizing energy consumption. Sustainable practices, such as powder reuse, will contribute to a more environmentally friendly and resource-efficient manufacturing process.

In summary, metal binder jetting technology has come a long way since its inception in the early 1990s. Originating at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and subsequently commercialised by major companies around the world, the technology has evolved into a high-speed, cost-effective production capability. The adoption of metal binder jetting has been further accelerated by the introduction of automation, increased print speeds and enhanced material compatibility. Advances in materials, print speeds, post-processing, quality control and sustainability will drive the widespread adoption of this technology. In the meantime, we can expect additional advances that will further cement metal binder jetting’s position as a transformative manufacturing technology for producing complex, high-quality metal parts with unprecedented efficiency and customisation.

What is 3D sand printer?

A 3D sand mold printer is a specialized type of 3D printing device designed for manufacturing sand molds used in casting processes. It utilizes specific sand powder materials and builds the sand mold layer by layer through a process of stacking and bonding. These sand molds can have highly complex internal and external structures, including cavities, channels, and intricate geometric shapes. Once the sand mold is printed, it can be used to cast various metal components, such as iron, aluminum, steel, and more.

3D sand mold printing technology has revolutionized the traditional casting industry. Compared to conventional mold-making methods, 3D sand mold printers can rapidly produce intricate sand molds, significantly enhancing production efficiency. Moreover, it offers greater flexibility for customized production since specific molds are not required, allowing the production of sand molds in various shapes based on specific requirements. This technology finds widespread applications in industries such as automotive manufacturing, aerospace, shipbuilding, energy, and more, providing manufacturing sectors with more efficient and flexible production solutions.

How are sand 3D printers currently being used in foundries?

Currently, the application of 3D sand mold printers in foundries has become increasingly widespread. This technology enables the direct manufacturing of intricate sand molds from 3D graphical data, revolutionizing traditional casting methods that involve molds, cores, patterns, and flask assembly. Compared to traditional casting techniques, 3D sand mold printing technology offers numerous advantages, such as shortened manufacturing cycles, increased production efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced product quality.

In foundries, the application of 3D sand mold printers brings many benefits. Firstly, it significantly boosts production efficiency, reducing the research and development as well as production cycles of products. Secondly, 3D sand mold printing technology allows the manufacturing of castings in any shape without mold limitations, making product design and development more flexible. Additionally, by utilizing 3D sand mold printers, foundries can achieve green casting practices, reducing waste and pollution.

In practical applications, 3D sand mold printers have played a crucial role in many foundries. For instance, some automobile manufacturers and aerospace companies have begun using 3D sand mold printing technology to produce complex engine components and framework structures. Furthermore, companies specializing in the research and production of 3D sand mold printing technology continue to grow and expand.

In summary, the application of 3D sand mold printers in foundries has made significant progress. This technology enhances casting production efficiency, flexibility, and environmental sustainability, providing new avenues and methods for the future development of the casting industry.

As the owner of a foundry, what aspects should be considered when purchasing a 3D sand mold printer?

To summarize, there are many factors to consider when buying a sand 3D printer. As the owner of a foundry, you need to combine your actual needs and product characteristics, weigh various factors, and choose a high-quality and efficient sand 3D printer that suits you.

One of the great advances that have been made in 3D printing technology in the manufacturing industry is 3D sand printing. This technology has revolutionized the foundry industry by allowing manufacturers to produce complex metal parts faster and cheaper. However, like any production process, 3D sand printing involves costs,How should it be analyzed.

What is the price of a sand 3D printer?In reality,3D sand printer prices are not as high as you might think. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the costs of 3D sand printing, both direct and indirect, and discuss some of the key factors that affect them.

Direct Costs:

  1. Material costs: 3D sand printing uses special sand materials that are usually more expensive than those used in traditional casting. The cost of sand materials is one of the main direct costs of 3D sand printing. In addition, there are binder should also be included in the material cost.
  2. Labor cost: Operating and maintaining a 3D sand printer requires specialized skills, so labor cost is also an important factor. Skilled workers need to monitor the printing process, maintain the equipment, and perform post-processing work.
  3. Energy costs: 3D sand printers typically require significant amounts of electricity and other energy resources. These costs include the cost of electricity, energy consumption for cooling systems and other energy costs associated with the printing process.

indirect costs:

  1. Equipment investment costs: The purchase of a 3D sand printer is itself a considerable investment. The price of these devices varies by model and performance, but they are usually expensive.
  2. Maintenance and repair costs: 3D printers require regular maintenance and possible repairs. This includes replacing parts, upgrading software, and ensuring that the equipment is functioning properly.
  3. Training costs: Employees need to be trained on how to operate a 3D sand printer, which can also add to the cost.
  4. scrap disposal costs: as with any manufacturing process, 3D sand printing produces scrap. Handling and disposing of scrap may involve additional costs.

Key factors affect cost:

  1. Batch size: Generally speaking, mass production can spread fixed costs, thus reducing the production cost per part.
  2. Equipment efficiency: The efficiency and speed of a 3D sand printer has a direct impact on throughput and cost. A more efficient machine will usually be able to complete production faster, reducing energy and labor costs.
  3. Material selection: Different types of sand materials have different costs, so choosing the right material for a particular application can also be a factor in cost.
  4. Design complexity: Complex parts require more material and printing time, which increases the cost.

Through the above analysis, you may think that the cost of 3D printing sand casting is very high, but through the following comparative analysis you will find that compared to traditional casting 3D printing sand casting whether from the efficiency or cost has great advantages.

What are the advantages of using sand 3D printing for sand casting versus traditional sand casting?

StrengthsSand 3D Printing CastingTraditional sand mold casting
manufacturing efficiencyhighlow
costslowerrelatively higher
production timefastrelatively slow
Design Freedomhighlimited
reject ratelowrelatively high
flexibilityhighlimited
energy efficiencyhighgenerally
human workloadvery fewrelatively more
prototypingsuitablegenerally
Complex Geometry ManufacturingEasy to implementhard to accomplish

Analysis:

  1. productivity: sand 3D printing casting has higher productivity because it eliminates some of the tedious processes in the traditional mold making process, such as hand carving or mold making. 3D printing can generate complex sand molds in a shorter period of time, and therefore the production speed is faster.
  2. Cost: Sand 3D printing casting usually has a lower cost. Although the investment in equipment is higher, it reduces material waste, labor and energy costs in the long run. Traditional sand casting involves a lot of manual work and wastage of mold making materials and hence is relatively costly.
  3. Production time: 3D printed sand molds are faster to make because they do not require handmade molds. Traditional sand mold making requires more time to prepare and carve the model.
  4. Design Freedom: 3D printing allows for a higher degree of design freedom because it allows for the easy creation of complex geometries and internal structures that are limited by traditional methods.
  5. Scrap rate: 3D printed sand molds typically have a lower scrap rate because it allows for more accurate modeling, reducing defects and waste. Traditional methods can result in more scrap.
  6. Flexibility: Models can be easily modified as needed with 3D printing, whereas traditional molds need to be recreated, so there is more flexibility.
  7. Energy efficiency: 3D printing is usually more energy efficient than traditional sand casting because it reduces heating and cooling time, which reduces energy consumption.
  8. Labor Effort: 3D printing reduces the amount of labor required, whereas traditional methods require more manual work.
  9. Prototyping: Sand 3D printing is suitable for prototyping as it allows rapid generation of sand molds for testing and validation.
  10. Complex Geometry Fabrication: 3D printing can easily realize complex geometries, whereas traditional methods may require more manual skills and time.

In summary, sand 3D printing for casting offers significant advantages in terms of efficiency and cost, and is particularly suitable for casting applications that require highly customized and complex geometries.

Learn about our sand 3D printers

  1. AFS J1600 pro
  2. AFS J2100 pro
  3. AFS J1600 plus
  4. AFS LaserCore-5300

Conclusion:

3D sand printing is a revolutionary technology that opens up new possibilities in manufacturing. However, it is important to understand the costs associated with it in order to develop effective production strategies and budgets. Cost analysis can help manufacturers optimize production processes, reduce costs, and increase competitiveness. Although the initial investment and direct costs of 3D sand printing may seem high, a comparative analysis from all angles will show that it promises to be a more cost-effective production method compared to traditional casting.

3D printing in manufacturing has seen tremendous growth recently as the technology has evolved from solely prototyping to enabling end-use production across diverse industries. Aerospace, automotive, medical device sectors are increasingly adopting 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) for short-run and high-volume manufacturing applications.

Compared to subtractive techniques like machining that remove material, 3D printing builds up components layer-by-layer directly from digital CAD models without the need for hard tooling. This unlocks game-changing advantages including greater design freedom, rapid prototyping, economical short runs, supply chain flexibility and minimized waste. However, scaling up rapidly and cost-effectively remains a key challenge.

With exponential growth predicted over the next decade, 3D printing promises to fundamentally transform manufacturing as technologies continue maturing. From early roots in prototyping, additive techniques have the potential to truly revolutionize production across applications ranging from concept modeling to full-scale end-use part manufacturing. With numerous benefits in design flexibility, supply chain resilience and accessible production, 3D printing is forging the future of manufacturing.

Traditional casting is a very common manufacturing method, the advent of 3D printing technology has taken the traditional casting industry to a new level, and the following diagram will help you understand it at once.

casting method with 3D printing technology
Traditional casting method vs. casting method with 3D printing technology

Evolution of 3D Printing Technology

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to processes used to synthesize three-dimensional objects by depositing materials layer-by-layer based on digital 3D model data. The technology has evolved significantly over the past decades:

3D printing has graduated from solely prototyping to enabling end-use production across aerospace, medical, automotive, and consumer industries today.

3D Printing in Production

3D printing is no longer restricted to prototyping and continues expanding into end-use short-run and high-volume production:

Small batch Manufacturing 

For lower volume production of up to 1000s of end-use parts, 3D printing enables:

Mass produce

For mass production of over 10,000s of parts, 3D printing offers:

For both low and high volume contexts, 3D printing provides advantages over conventional subtractive techniques.

3D printing in manufacturing: sand moulds for small batch casting

What are the advantages of using 3D printing in manufacturing?

Numerous benefits offered by 3D printing include:

1. Reduced Costs

2. Reduced Risk

3. Lower Cost of Failure and Faster Speeds

4. Reduced Time-to-Market

5. Rapidly Go from Concept to Object

6. Unlimited Part Complexity

7. Reduced Material Waste

8. On-Demand Production Without Large Inventories

3D printing technology simplifies the production process.
3D printing technology simplifies the production process.

The table below is a comparison and analysis of application cases, from which you can understand the difference between traditional manufacturing methods and those that incorporate 3D printing technology, both in terms of cost and efficiency, the benefits of 3D printing technology are obvious.

Automotive CylinderWater Jacket Sand MoldDiesel Engine Block
TechnologyTraditional TechnologyDesign → Metal mold → Casting → Machining → Assembly → Bench test verificationIt needs to make separate metal molds for water jacket and air duct, and then cast them separately.Design → Wooden mold → Sanding → Casting → Machining → Assembly → Bench test verification
3D Printing Design → 3D printing sand mold → Casting → Machining → Assembly → Bench test verificationWater jacket and airway can be formed in one pieceDesign → 3D printing sand mold → Casting → Machining → Assembly → Bench test verification
Advantages3D printing technology saves the process steps of opening molds and shortens the process flow.Breakthrough the traditional process limit, realize the sand mold integrated molding, optimize the process flow.3D printing technology saves the process steps of opening molds and shortens the process flow.
EfficiencyTraditional Manufacturing3-4 months1 month3 months
3D Printing Combined with Manufacturing1 month (2 weeks for the first one)7-10 days (2 days pre-design+2 days printing+1 day assembly +5 days casting)1 month
Advantages3D printing can significantly reduce the production cycle time and save about 60% of the time cost.3D printing can significantly reduce the production cycle time and save about 60% of the time cost.3D printing can significantly reduce the production cycle time and save about 70% of the time cost.
CostAdvantagesCompared with the traditional production process, “3D printing + casting” process, the cost can save more than 10%.
QualityAdvantagesCan meet the quality requirements of small batch trial production1. Traditional manufacturing, manual molding accuracy is generally ±1-2mm, casting accuracy can reach CT8-9 casting standards.
2. 3D printing technology to produce sand mold printing accuracy of ± 0.3-0.5mm, the accuracy of its castings can reach CT7-8 standards.
3. 3D printing + casting, the accuracy of the castings obtained is higher.
Comparison and analysis of application cases

What are the current challenges of using 3D printing for mass production?

While promising, scaling up 3D printing faces challenges:

How can 3D printing meet the challenges and benefit manufacturing industry?

The technology limitations can be overcome through focused efforts:

What problems does 3D printing solve that traditional manufacturing can’t or is difficult to solve?

Here are some key problems that 3D printing can solve that are difficult with traditional manufacturing:

In summary, 3D printing facilitates designs, economics, speed, flexibility and capabilities difficult to achieve with conventional subtractive and formative manufacturing processes.

Typical applications of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry

3D printing solves several pain points in manufacturing:

What are the future development trends of 3D printing and the prospect analysis?

Future opportunities for additive manufacturing include:

With exponential growth predicted over the next decade, 3D printing promises to fundamentally transform manufacturing as technologies continue maturing.

Conclusion

From early roots in prototyping, 3D printing is evolving into a disruptive digital manufacturing paradigm enabling on-demand, customized and distributed production. As hardware, materials and processing limitations are overcome through convergent innovation, additive techniques will transform business models across the global manufacturing landscape. 3D printing will accelerate the transition towards flexible, resilient and democratized Industry 4.0 manufacturing ecosystems.

Despite its shortcomings, it is an indisputable fact that 3D printing continues to drive the development of the manufacturing industry, and all we can do is to embrace the new technology, learn from it, and make it work for us to improve productivity and reduce production costs.

In addition, you can pay attention to the process of “binder jetting 3D printing”, which will play a very important role in manufacturing, as we will discuss later. Meanwhile, the casting sand 3DP printing technology has been widely used in industrial production, especially in the small batch and multi-variety production mode, you can click here to learn more about our sand 3D printers.

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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 Yudong Road, B Area, Tianzhu Konggang Industrial Park, Shunyi District, Beijing, China.