3D printing is not simply restricted only to plastics. Now learn about a 3D metal manufacturing technique known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering(DMLS), which can print the models using metal as a printing material.
Keep reading the article to know all about the overviews, working process, material options, benefits, limitations and groundbreaking applications of DMLS.
DMLS 3D Printing Technology Overview:
DMLS is the fastest metal 3D printing technique in contrast to other 3D metal manufacturing methods. When compared to parts produced by investment casted metals, parts produced in this technology are very powerful and denser.
DMLS is ideal for the production of medical devices, complicated prototypes, dental, aeronautical industries, etc,.by printing parts with high speed using exotic materials.
What Is Direct Metal Laser Sintering?
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is a 3D printing technology where highly precise prototypes are produced, which is impractical for other metal manufacturing technologies.It is also known as Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) and Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). It is used to produce functional prototypes at a faster rate with high durability.
How Does Direct Metal Laser Sintering Work?
Similar to other 3D printing technologies, DMLS also follows the same sequence of modeling, slicing, and printing layer-by-layer. To start the process, first create a 3D model and then insert the sliced file along with the required code to the relevant printer’s software.
The required metal powder is filled up in the hopper of the DMLS 3D printer. The printer heater provides the desired temperature and heats up the alloy to its sintering range. The heated powder and the desired print is preserved by the use of a noble gas.
As the process begins, the metal powder is uniformly distributed on the build plate in the form of thin layers. Instantly, the laser begins to play its role by particularly sintering the required layers of metal powder and turns into a solid. The same process is continued till the entire 3D model is created.
When you get your desired 3D model, let it cool for sometime and remove the unwanted metal powder on the printer. Now, you can remove the support part and go ahead with the post-processing if required.
For subsequent processing, DMLS models can be assumed as conventional metal parts. The operations such as heart treatment, smooth surface finishing, etc,.can be involved.
Metal 3D Printing Material Options:
Advantages And Limitations:
- Many different metals and metal alloys along with steels, nickel alloys, and precious metals can be used in DMLS.
- Prints models in a short period of time and are durable.
- Highly strong prototypes with complex geometries can be printed.
- Materials neither sintered nor melted can be reused.
- Delicate featured and consolidated parts are produced.
- Unlike other 3D metal printing techniques, mechanical properties of the final part are most adequate in every direction.
High Pricing: Highly expensive materials and devices are used in DMLS when compared to other metal 3D printing methods. But still the process is very slow.
Porosity: Parts are vastly porous when compared to parts produced from melted metal. Parts cannot be printed completely out of porosity by post- processing.
Tiny Parts: Very small dimensional parts are printed relative to other metal 3D processes.
Medicine: Incase of an accident or a disease, the lost body part or bone can be replaced by custom prosthetics using DMLS. Titanium alloys can be used as materials to manufacture the custom prosthetics. Parts produced by the DMLS method are highly resistant and have great strength. Based on the individual patients distinct prosthetics can be printed.
Dentistry: Powerful and long lasting prosthetics can be built using the DMLS 3D printing process. Furthermore models like bridges, crowns, partial dentures, etc,.can also be printed within a matter of hours. Usage of cobalt chrome as print material provides even more strength to the models.
Aerospace: Since aircrafts and rockets should be manufactured with light weight parts, DMLS helps in producing complex geometries and prints parts with low mass. The method also produces powerful parts and ensures long lasting durability.