Since its arrival, additive manufacturing has transformed the manufacturing industry. Also commonly known as 3D printing, this manufacturing process has paved the way for creating complex parts and systems efficiently and effectively.
What is Additive Manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing is a computer-aided process that builds a part by depositing the raw material layer by layer. Additive manufacturing can enhance and sometimes even replace traditional techniques of manufacturing objects using cutting, machining, turning, milling, shaping and other processes.
To build an object using additive manufacturing, the first step is to create the design using CAD (computer-aided design) software. Alternatively, the object being printed could be scanned for the software to translate it into a design framework. The 3D printer will follow this design data layer by layer.
What are the Top Metal Additive Manufacturing Techniques?
Here are some of the commonly used metal additive manufacturing techniques.
Laser-Based Powder Bed Additive – The powder bed fusion technique uses either an electron or laser beam to melt and fuse the metal powder into a solid form. Some metals used in this additive manufacturing process are titanium, stainless steel, steel, aluminum, copper, and chrome. This method covers metal additive manufacturing techniques like electron beam melting, selective laser melting, selective heat sintering and direct metal laser sintering.
Sheet Lamination – This process builds an object using bonding, brazing or ultrasonic welding to bond sheets of metal layer by layer. The sheet lamination technique is a low-temperature process that can bond a variety of materials. This technique is ideal for aesthetic and visual models and rarely used for structural purposes.
Metal Binder Jetting – This process works just like the inkjet printer. Metal powders are beamed onto the build platform to print the object. However, a liquid binder is required to bond the powder layer by layer to build the object. When printed, the parts can be fragile. Post-processing can help improve their strength. The biggest advantage of binder jetting is that the metal powders are not melted, which does away with the issue of residual stress build-up. What’s more, it’s a cost-effective process.
Directed Energy Deposition – This is a complex 3D Printing process that directs an electron or laser beam to melt the raw material and deposit it in layers. It uses a heated nozzle to deposit the material onto the surface where it solidifies. It is also ideal to repair or to add additional materials to existing structures.