Welcome to the blog of 3D in metal. I hope you are as excited as we are about printing 3D objects in metal. We want to set forth our contribution to place 3D metal printing or metal additive manufacturing as is technically known, to the prominent place we think it should have, because metals are the backbone of our industrialized world.
When men like Henry Bessemer in England and Andrew Carnegie in the US helped industrialize steel making in the 19th century, they probably could not imagine the things society would be able to accomplish through the use of metals. Not only in terms of the products that can be made but also in terms of efficiency, precision, accuracy and cleanliness. Back then metal parts had to be bulky and manufacturing processes were dirty and dangerous.
We’ve come a long way.
Now in the 21st century, great progress has been made in the processing of metals through materials science, additive manufacturing, automation and software. Instead of having to keep actual metal parts in inventory, you can have only digital files stored for when you actually need them. Instead of having to always use huge furnaces to process large quantities of material at once, you can have the equivalent of a digital foundry which uses several different metal additive manufacturing technologies to build parts from scratch. Instead of always having to waste material by subtracting mass from a bigger piece, you can envision and achieve better geometries and save material in the process.
For several years now, 3D printing has been having its moment. The pandemic has further highlighted many of its advantages in times of crisis. But metal 3D printing in particular has been trying to come out of its shell to provide the products and services industry wants, without, it seems, quite able to deliver on its promises. We are all waiting for custom-made metal parts in the right alloys, in just the right quantities, at optimal sizes and with the required properties. It’s a tall order.
Is it possible? Yes and No.
Why not yes, all the way? Because processing metal parts is a complex endeavor. One of the disadvantages to society as a whole of not currently having more active metallurgists is that there is no wide appreciation of the challenge it is to accurately, repeatedly and consistently produce metal parts with the properties, finish, geometry and durability requested. There is ore extraction, melting, forging, forming, and often all these are needed just to get the raw material ready for further processing. There are many issues at the microscopic and macroscopic level that need to be taken in account when you're processing a metal part. It takes a lot of energy.
So, is it possible? Yes! Having stated the above. 3D metal printing has not been able to live up to its potential because it's hard to harness all that is required to process metals. But we now have hundreds of years of experience and it’s time to take advantage of it. We just have to think a little differently.
3D in Metal is willing to give it a try.
We want to provide mass customization of metal parts. As engineers and metallurgists, we’ll let you know what is possible and what is not. At times we’ll use a metal 3D printer and at others we’ll use a machining center. We’ll print and then throw the part in a furnace for heat treatment. The design may need to change, a different metal alloy may need to be used, you may need to sacrifice a property because it’s not the critical one for your application, there may be no more joining or assembly of dozens or hundreds of parts as in the past. In short, the part or assembly may look different to what you originally envisioned but it will provide what you actually need, when you need it and in the quantity you need.
3D in Metal extends an open invitation for everyone to think differently and build metal parts the 21st century way. Let’s propel metal AM to the prominent place it’s been waiting to have.