Sintered part, printed using BASF Ultrafuse 316LX Metal Filament
Metal FFF printing opens up possibilities for low cost metal parts while having the benefits of 3D printing such as advanced geometry and lack of additional tooling.
We explored these benefits while prototyping a tool-change system for our delta 3D printers which resulted in a tool-change system first showcased at Formnext 2017. The cost of the part was much lower than printing it in metal using SLS or similar technology. Even more so, because of the geometry of the part it was impossible to machine it using traditional CNC methods.
First, a so-called “green part” is printed from Ultrafuse like any other filament, however a hardened steel nozzle was used because of the highly abrasive nature of Ultrafuse and other filled filaments. After printing the binder material is extracted from the green part so that the part consists nearly completely of metal powder. Finally the part is heated in a furnace at a temperature of at least 1,300°C. At the end of the sintering step the completed metal part is obtained. Usually during the sintering process, the parts shrink by up to 20%, which should be compensated in the slicing software.
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