3D printing technology has come a long way, and today, it is possible to 3D print using various materials, including aluminum. 3D printing with aluminum requires a different approach than other materials such as plastics or resins. Aluminum is a popular material for 3D printing, as it has high strength, is lightweight, and has good corrosion resistance. This article will discuss how to 3D print aluminum, including the types of printers, materials, and techniques required.
Types of Printers for Aluminum 3D Printing:
There are two main types of printers used for 3D printing with aluminum: direct energy deposition (DED) and powder bed fusion (PBF). DED printers use a laser or electron beam to melt a wire or powder feedstock, which is then deposited onto the build platform. PBF printers use a laser to melt a bed of powder material layer by layer to create the 3D printed object.
Materials for Aluminum 3D Printing:
Aluminum 3D printing requires special materials that are typically in the form of powders or wires. The most commonly used material for aluminum 3D printing is aluminum powder, which is available in various grades, including pure aluminum and aluminum alloys. Aluminum powder is available in particle sizes ranging from 15 to 100 microns.
Techniques for Aluminum 3D Printing:
There are several techniques used for aluminum 3D printing. The most common techniques are laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), electron beam melting (EBM), and laser direct energy deposition (LDED).
LPBF is a technique that uses a laser to melt a bed of aluminum powder layer by layer to create a 3D printed object. EBM is a similar technique, but instead of using a laser, it uses an electron beam to melt the aluminum powder. LDED is a technique that uses a laser to melt a wire feedstock as it is deposited onto the build platform.
After 3D printing with aluminum, post-processing is required to finish the part. The post-processing techniques used depend on the printing technique and the specific requirements of the part. The post-processing steps may include removing support structures, cleaning the part, sanding or polishing the part, and heat treatment.
3D printing with aluminum is an excellent option for creating strong, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant parts. To 3D print with aluminum, you will need to use specialized printers, materials, and techniques. Post-processing is also an essential step in the 3D printing process to ensure the part meets the necessary requirements. With the proper tools and techniques, it is possible to create high-quality 3D printed parts with aluminum.