Additive Manufacturing - 3D Printing

Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing, as it is often referred to, is the process of building, or 'growing', a part from the ground up. Using existing rapid prototyping technologies, it involves no tooling so bypasses the most time consuming process in the manufacturing chain. Starting with the CAD data, parts are built up layer by layer from the raw materials, which means that parts can be finished result in an extremely short space of time - often days, or even hours!

Some of the benefits enjoyed by the Additive Manufacturing (AM) process include the ability to create extremely short runs, and even single parts - offering complete customisation. The absence of tooling also allows designs to be modified from one part to the next, allowing for customer feedback to be rapidly incorporated into future designs. Parts can also be built without traditional manufacturing constraints, which means that some sub-assemblies can be consolidated into a single part, or removed entirely!

Most AM processes available produce parts in some kind of plastic resin that is extruded or cured using laser or UV-light. The plastic materials are available in a variety of grades with different material properties to suit each application. Camplex offers the ProJet and Stereolithography (SLA) technologies for its range of materials and ability to produce strong parts with fine detail and smooth finishes.

The ProJet machines offer VisiJet materials in acrylic for general AM and wax for investment casting applications. SLA technology offers the videst range of materials with materials suitable for many very demanding industrial applications.

One of the leading technologies in producing metal parts using AM is Electron Beam Melting (EBM). EBM offers the widest variety of material choices when working metal.  One of the key functions of an AM part is that the material choice must equal, or exceed, traditional expectations and this is often directly related to the material being used to build the part.

Materials (powders) currently available from manufacturer include:-

  • Titanium Ti6Al4V
  • Titanium Ti6Al4V ELI
  • Titanium Grade 2
  • Cobalt-Chrome, ASTM F75

Other materials (powders) tried with EBM process include:-

  • Titanium aluminide
  • Inconel (625 & 718)
  • Stainless steel (e.g. 17-4)
  • Tool steel (e.g. H13)
  • Aluminium (e.g. 6061)
  • Hard metals (e.g. NiWC)
  • Copper (e.g. GRCop-84)
  • Beryllium (e.g. AlBeMet)
  • Amorphous metals
  • Niobium
  • Invar