3D metal printing is a term that is used to cover several processes in which metal objects are produced by technology. Simply put, a highly focused beam of energy is used to scan and melt metal powder particles, which bonds them together to manufacture a component layer by layer. Although machine manufacturing is still the preferred method for producing metal components, a more specialist approach is often required, which brings us to 3D metal printing. This post will aim to cover the basics of what 3D metal printing is and how it works.
What is 3D Metal Printing?
The term 3D metal printing covers several technologies used for printing metal. The standard process involves melting or sintering metal powders, although some powders can be combined with additional material. Typical metals and metal alloys used in powder form are aluminum, copper, nickel, steel, stainless steel, titanium, tungsten, and precious metals such as gold, palladium, platinum, and silver.
There are a few main metal printing types, such as selective laser melting (SLM), direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), electron beam melting (EBM), and some additional methods. However, some of the others have limited applications. Therefore, we won’t cover them in this article.
Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
One of the primary metal printing methods involves melting the material with a laser in an inert gas environment. The process is repeated layer by layer to create similar components and is often used for manufacturing parts in the aerospace, automotive and medical industries.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
As the name suggests, this method sinters metal powder with a laser and forms an object layer by layer. DMLS is typically used for prototyping and producing finished components such as medical devices.
Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
EBM is a similar process to SLM, with the critical difference being that an electron beam is used instead of a laser. EBM is frequently used to produce components from nickel and titanium alloys, is suitable for the aerospace industry.
JEOL: 3D Printing
JEOL is making advancements in the world of 3D printing with our unique additive manufacturing technology and our electron beam metal AM machine. Our technology enhances additive manufacturing so lighter manufactured components can be produced more cleanly and efficiently for use in the aerospace, medical, and energy industries.
The JEOL electron beam metal AM machine, the JAM-5200EBM
, provides several benefits for additive manufacturing. These advantages stem from JEOL’s decades of experience developing advanced electron optics technology and our current position as the market leader for electron microscopy instruments.
The key features of this instrument include automatic electron beam correction, long-life cathode and a remote monitoring system. The cathode will run for over 1,500 hours, allowing total system uptime to be improved and manufacturing quality to remain high. The machine operates in a clean and helium-free environment. Other features and benefits
include the following:
The automatic correction and alignment function was developed in-house by JEOL and will ensure the focus and spot shape of the electron beam are precise according to the irradiation position.
The AM machine is helium-free, and the ‘e-shield’ component eliminates any smoke that may arise during the manufacturing process. Additionally, the machine can produce multiple parts in one run, reducing waste and run time for single products.
It is possible to monitor the manufacturing status and the current system conditions remotely, allowing for efficient updates and reducing the time personnel would spend going to and from the machine. An alarm function is also available.
Contact us today for more information about our JAM-5200EBM or to request a virtual demonstration.