3D Metal Printing (Additive Manufacturing) is a process by which a 3D design file is transformed into a physical metal object by selectively fusing a section of the powder bed in successive layers. One key benefit of this process is the elimination of any tooling, thereby reducing the cost of development. Another benefit is the ability to manufacture complex shapes which would otherwise be “impossible” to manufacture. One such example would be the direct integration of comformal cooling channels into the mold inserts for application in plastic injection molding manufacturing resulting in increased productivity and shorter cycle time.
The impact of 3D metal printing (Additive Manufacturing) could be summarized as:
- Increases design innovation– Create new ideas, shapes with quick turnaround for a physical part to gauge, look and feel.
- Speeds up time to market– Making idea to prototype cycle much faster. Necessary adjustments made more rapidly.
- Reduces development cost– Use less materials. No requirement for tooling.
- Reverse – engineering– Obsolete parts without drawing can now be scanned and reproduced easily.
Enables smaller batch production – Low volume parts of less than 100 pcs