3D Printing, Desktop Metal

4-Step Metal 3D Printing Process

By Tricia Klebe on July 10, 2017

In 2015, Desktop Metal was founded with one goal in mind to make metal 3D printing more accessible for engineering teams. The Studio System™ does just that by providing an end-to-end solution for companies to print metal parts in-house. Here is the four-step metal 3D printing process that makes it possible.

Step 1: Prepping Digital Model

Prepping Digital Models

Like any 3D printing process, metal 3D printing on the Studio System starts with a CAD file. But instead of being restricted to only .STL format, this software accepts native CAD file formats as well. Since it is web-based, it runs on remote and local servers making it possible to manage jobs securely from any device.

Step 2: Printing Green Part

Printing Green Parts

The next step after preparing the digital model is printing. Similar to Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, the Desktop Metal Studio printer uses Bound Metal Deposition (BMD) technology to shape a "green" part. But instead of extruding plastic, it prints parts layer-by-layer by heating and extruding metal rods onto its build area (300x200x200 mm). By removing lasers and powders, the Studio System also eliminates traditional safety requirements associated with metal 3D printing. This makes it safe for any facility and independent of 3rd party equipment. Plus, you can easily sand the green part by hand. 

Step 3: Debinding and Sintering Part

Debinding and Sintering Parts

Once printed, some of the plastic binder is removed in the included debinding system. The office-friendly sintering furnace then uniformly heats parts to just below their melting point (peak temp 1400°C), the remaining binder is sintered out, and the metal particles fuse together to form a final density up to 99.8%. This is done by combining SiC heating elements with high-powered microwaves to sinter printed parts. Plus, the Studio furnace delivers industrial-strength sintering while still being fully automated and designed to fit through an office door (122x76x150 cm). The office-friendly package is also cloud-connected with temperature profiles tuned for every build and material.

Step 4: Post Processing Finished Part

Prost Processing Finished PartAnd the best part? Support removal can be removed by hand in just seconds (watch here). No wire EDM or machining is required, even for the most complex parts and print-in-place assemblies, because supports are not bonded to parts. While not required, you have the option to apply finishing methods such as machining or bead blasting for critical tolerances and finishes. 

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