3D Printing Materials, Desktop Metal, Know Your Materials

Know Your Materials: 17-4PH Stainless Steel (Metal)

By TriMech on November 29, 2018

The 17-4PH stainless steel material is characterized by its combination of strength, hardness, and corrosion resistance. It is ideal for a variety of application such as tooling, molds, and production parts. In its as-sintered state, 17-4 PH material properties consistently meet industry standards. 


The printing process leverages Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), the safest, most widely used 3D printing process. Key applications include:

  • Functional prototyping: these applications call for parts that adhere to specific thermal and chemical requirements. The use of an in-house 3D printer allows engineers to explore an iterative design process that includes functional testing.
  • Jigs & fixtures: jigs and fixtures are complex and they need to meet stiffness and strength requirements, therefore, they typically have to be made in metal. The Studio System prints metal parts that meet strength and durability requirements and can be post-processed after sintering to achieve critical dimensions.
  • Tooling: there are parts with complex geometries that are difficult to achieve (ex: mold cavity inserts). These applications incur in a high initial tooling expense, which represents a high cost of overall part cost. The Studio Systems build reliable, highly accurate, durable tools that outperform a plastic equivalent.
  • Low volume production: it is very common that the cost of producing metal parts in low quantities is high. The Studio System results in reduced lead time, and the part costs do not increase, allowing designers to focus on the function of the part rather than limitations of traditional manufacturability.

Printing Technology: Metal 3D Printing

This metal material is printed using Bound Metal Deposition (BMD) which is an extrusion-based metal additive manufacturing (AM) process where metal components are constructed by extrusion of a powder-filled thermoplastic media. Unlike laser-based systems that selectively melt metal powder, the printer extrudes bound metal rods—similar to how an FDM printer works. This eliminates the safety requirements often associated with metal 3D printing while enabling new features like the use of closed-cell infill for lightweight strength. This also allows for printing of other industrially-relevant metallic alloys such as stainless steels, tool steels and other metals that are difficult to process via other AM techniques such as refractory metals, cemented carbides, and ceramics.

>> Download the Desktop Metal Studio System+ brochure 

Helpful Tips and Tricks To Remember

As with any 3D printing material, there are some important things to keep present as you use or consider metal printing with the Desktop Metal Studio System+:

  • Evaluate production costs. The different applications of a 3D metal printer allow for production costs to be significantly reduced when prototyping designs.
  • The Studio System eliminates lasers and loose powders often associated with metal 3D printing, making it safe to use in any facility. 
  • Depending on your production needs, consider the Studio Fleet option for greater capacity at lower cost. It leverages Studio System+ technology—including stackable shelving for batch processing—for the rapid production of complex metal parts. 

>> Product Story: Lumenium Develops Faster Design Iteration and Functional Prototyping

Learn more about the Desktop Metal Studio System+

This article is just an meant as an introduction to this material. For additional details and  specifics about all that is can do, take a look at some of our related content:

Want to learn more about the Desktop Metal Studio+ applications? Download the case study below to find out more.