Metal powders are the fastest-growing segment within the 3D printing materials market, and 3D printing with metal offers a range of highly-sought out characteristics, including immense strength, reduced weight, biocompatibility and corrosion or thermal resistance, making it ideal for high-demand industries such as aerospace, medical, etc.
Conventional methods require focusing a very intense energy source, such as a laser or electron beam, across a bed of metal powder, fusing the powder particles together in a pre-determined pattern to create the final 3D structure.
While this method does allow for incredibly strong metal 3D structures to be produced, it has its drawbacks, mainly:
- it is prohibitively expensive and time consuming;
- it does not allow for certain types of architectures, such as those that are hollow and enclosed, and;
- it is limited by the types of compatible metals and alloys that can be used.
If we ignore the cost, why can't we do hollow or enclosed architectures to be printed with this technique?
Source: A closer look at the 12 biggest 3D printing tech innovations of the first half of 2016.