The vast appeal of 3D printing lies in the possibilities—and they just keep expanding. With 3D printing in metal, this is true in the most literal sense too. Metal 3D printers and the continuing availability of metal powders allows for manufacturing that is streamlined, with no added lead times in tooling or machining, and even greater design freedom than before.

Why Shapeways Customers Are Turning to Metal 3D Printing

One of the greatest benefits of 3D printing is the ability to innovate like never before, making a tremendous impact in areas like product development where complex geometries that were previously impossible can now be designed and 3D printed. Metal 3D printing takes these benefits a step further offering not only great strength and speed, but also the ultimate optimization of industrial parts.

Stainless Steel 17-4 PH

Shapeways offers Stainless Steel 17-4 PH (processed finish) in partnership with Desktop Metal for 3D printing. This Steel material is known for its hardness and toughness, but also for offering resistance to heat and corrosion too. 3D printed with Binder Jetting technology, Stainless Steel 17-4 PH yields highly durable parts with great resolution and excellent material properties. A single alloy that can withstand both low and high temperatures, Stainless Steel is recommended for mechanical applications, medical applications requiring devices like surgical tooling, exchangers, fasteners, and more.

Shapeways customers choose Steel and Binder Jetting for materials that are robust yet light in weight. The process is more environmentally friendly too as metal materials are saved in production by adding product layer by layer rather than starting with a large metal structure and basically chipping away at it (or subtracting) to achieve a desired part. Many parts can be made all in one instead of having to be assembled, and with the time saved from design to production to post-processing, products get to market much faster. There is also the huge advantage of on-demand 3D printing, resulting in limited runs of highly customized products manufactured as needed.

Binder Jetting Technology

The Binder Jetting process is fast, efficient, and capable of production for high-quality, rapid prototypes as well as high-performance, end-use parts. Unique in relying on an inkjet head that deposits a binding agent to meld metal powder particles together, Binder Jetting technology does not include any use of temperature or lasers. After 3D printing, Shapeways removes excess powder and then cures each 3D printed part by sintering it in a furnace.. The Shop System has a build volume of 350 x 220 x 200 mm and uses 70,000 nozzles to achieve high resolution printed parts.   

As a powder-based technology, similar to Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Binder Jetting technology does not require supports. This is beneficial on several levels. Designers do not have to worry about figuring in support structures while engaged in the 3D modeling process. Shapeways engineers are able to nest hundreds or even thousands of parts together in one build without worrying about damaging protruding supports, and last, post-processing does not involve any complicated removal of supports which always brings the possibility of damaged 3D printed parts.

As materials go, metal offers the most powerful option, and especially with materials like steel that can be 3D printed with the incredible speed of binder jetting—and on the large scale too.

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About Shapeways

Contact Shapeways now to enjoy the benefits of advanced technology and materials for 3D printing with accuracy, complex detail, and no limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to make over 21 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways solutions, and get instant quotes here.