Binder Jet 3D Printing Metal for Manufacturing

There are a wide range of 3D printing technologies available today, and there is often confusion about the pros and cons of various offerings. Binder Jet 3D printing is renowned among additive manufacturing methods specifically for its high volumetric output.

Among additive manufacturing technologies, it’s also the most similar to traditional paper printing in its simple approach and speed. The binder functions like the ink as it moves across the layers of powder, which like paper, forms the final product.

By contrast, many other forms of 3D printing build parts with a single point — often a laser or nozzle — that extrudes, melts or welds material together. For many of these metal printing processes, a build plate and supports may be required for part stability throughout the build process. Such processes require significantly more material and time to draw out each part with a single point, layer by layer. To combat the slow speed of drawing out a part with a single point with head, additional lasers may be added, which intensifies the cost of such systems. What’s more, the heating and cooling that takes place during these longer builds for metal creates residual stresses in the part which must be relieved in a secondary post-processing operation.

ExOne 3D printer binder jetting is unique in that it does not employ heat during the build process for metal parts and it prints quickly entire layers of many parts using a wide gantry of printheads. The parts are supported by the loose powder in the job box, eliminating the need for a build plate or supports in most instances. Thus, binder Jetting has the ability to print a large number of parts or large parts in a quick and cost effective manner. Finally, parts printed in metal powder are sintered together at one time after the shape has been formed, resulting in a high-quality microstructure with superior grain isotropy.

Because of its high-speeds and material flexibility, binder jetting stands alone among 3D printing methods as a technology that could transform traditional high-volume manufacturing and bring the design, cost and sustainability advantages of 3D printing to the masses.

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