Printing in metals opens up a world of opportunities, but also for us at the Academy – a world of new questions! We sat down with on our metal specialists and got him to answer some of your frequently asked questions on Metal Additive Manufacturing.

Why would you print in metal instead of plastic?

Main reason is to provide generally a more realistic end use product, if this is to be a metal application. Geared toward functional prototypes or low volume production.

If you are printing in metal – why would I not machine it instead?

In most cases if it is designed for CNC machining, then continue, if you are looking to make parts more light weight with lattice or internal voids then considering metal 3D printing is the alternative. The other consideration is time on very expensive CNC machines with multiple set ups may be worthwhile to use 3D printing, as complexity and the ease of use does not generally take the same levels of skilled operation.

Is it safe to print in metal?

Interesting question, CNC machines with high speed spindles, tools, large lumps of metal all carry a level of safety. The safety aspects associated with metal printing tend to be on powdered metal handing, general use of PPE gloves, mask and hand tools, I don’t consider carry the same level of risk.

How much does it cost to 3D print in metal?

Not as much as you would think! We generally look at the costs based on the CAD design, and the orientation to build, along with material selection. Costs are Return on Investment, if you only need 2 and you have to order 50, or need it same day, to be these are all cost factors, and need to be taken into consideration.

Is metal 3D printing expensive?

It really depends on the problem it is trying to solve; you may want assemblies that can be 3D printed as one.  Complement highly skilled processes, and the flexible variations possible make metal 3D printing a valuable tool in any situation.

Can I 3D print metal at home?

Yes would be the answer if you have room (however we do not recommend it), and can maintain a range of temperatures within our technical specification.

Can you 3D print with titanium?

Titanium is a popular 3D printable material, not generally a material for beginners, as it does require Argon Gas, and special handling, so best to offer advice and look deeper at the application.

Can 3D printed aluminium be welded?

Yes, along with any 3D printed material, it is in fact a laser welding process in principle, when printed it offers a high level of density that makes welding a normal process.

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