7 Metals Compatible With Additive Manufacturing

With the increasing use of additive manufacturing across the industry, many business owners are still unaware of the potential this new technology can offer. 3D printing opens a ton of new options and has been evolving to use metals that previously took a lot of time and energy to produce and shape. Knowing what materials these printers can use is the first step to utilize this technology to benefit any modern manufacturers business. Take a look at our list of the 7 most commonly used metals in additive manufacturing.

Aluminum

This material is used commonly in Aerospace and Automotive technologies due to its high strength to weight ratio. Aluminum is also very resistant to corrosion and has a high thermal conductivity. Many manufacturers use this metal to build lightweight products that also need to support a heavy load. The laser inside a 3D printer is able to melt the metallic powder and immediately cool it to form shapes and designs previously impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques.

Steel

3D printing steel is the cheapest additive manufacturing option for many businesses. This material is used in a multitude of products and critical industrial components. Many manufacturers will realize the benefits associated with 3D printing their steel components including lower cost and greater operational flexibility.

Brass

Brass is one of the simplest metals to form into various shapes. This metal is also a good conductor of heat and resistant to corrosion from salt water. As a result of this brass is typically used in piping for offshore operations as well as more conventional weather-stripping. 3D printing brass can deliver a higher quality component which will lack many of the deformities that typically come from working this metal.

Copper

Copper is widely used throughout the industry for wiring and cables due to its high electrical conductivity. It is also used in a variety of tubes and handles because of its resistance to bacteria. This affordable metal is made even more cost effective with the use of additive manufacturing. Some printers are able to apply coatings and can even add polish offering a quality product down to the finest details.

Bronze

This copper based alloy is typically used in conjunction with other metals and is used in a plethora of manufacturing processes. Bronze is often used in bearings due to its friction properties. This metal is also used in electrical contacts due to the copper it contains. 3D printing this metal is a first choice for many manufacturers because it cuts back on the materials relatively costly price point.

Gold

This highly efficient conductor is used in almost every electronic. Gold is able to easily carry even the smallest of currents without having to worry about corrosion. This metal is typically used in connectors, switch and relay contacts, soldered joints, connecting wires and and connection strips. 3D printing gold for use in electronics is optimal for shaping wires that need very fine adjustments to fit into smaller electronics such as cell phones.

Platinum

This material is widely considered the most valuable of the precious metals. Platinum is used as a catalytic converter in automobiles turning harmful emissions into carbon dioxide and water. It is estimated that this metal is used in approximately one-fifth of everything we use. Working with an expensive material such as Platinum offers manufacturers an additional incentive to utilize 3D printing as it can use the least amount of material possible and still get the job done right.

BONUS METAL

Titanium- This metal is typically used in the production of mechanical parts for bicycles and other forms of transportation equipment. Manufacturers can see a ton of benefits from 3D printing this material such as reduced strain on resources while still making the product to the desired specifications. Titanium is a notoriously difficult material to work with and it can do a number on machine tools. Offering manufacturers a way to lay the exact amount of material needed to manufacture a component out of titanium can save a business time and money.

Sources:

https://3dprint.com/113907/shapeways-new-aluminum/

https://all3dp.com/metal-3d-printer-guide/

https://i.materialise.com/3d-printing-materials/steel

http://www.madehow.com/Volume-6/Brass.html

https://i.materialise.com/blog/3d-printing-copper/

http://geology.com/minerals/gold/uses-of-gold.shtml

https://www.allthat3d.com/3d-printing-benefits/

http://3d-printing-titanium.com/