EDUCATION

Impact of 3D Printing in Metalworking Industry

3 Mins read
3D Printing for the Metal Industry
Above: 3D printed automotive engine model/Image Source: 3D Printem

Metal 3D printing is changing the way we create parts. While 3D printing in metalworking industry is still a small component of the overall metal industry, it is steadily expanding, with the market estimated to reach $10 billion by 2030 to 2035. The technique has already been widely embraced by various industries– such as Aerospace, Automotive etc. For example, the new 3D printing technology makes printing Pick and place packaging machine parts as simple as streaming music, allowing manufacturers and packaging companies to enhance efficiency by providing a more consistent output of products, especially during periods of increased customer demand. 

Key advantages of 3D Printing in Metalworking Industry

Design Freedom

3D printing offers design freedom
Above: 3D printing offers design freedom/Image Source: ZMorph

One of the most significant advantages of 3-D printers is their ability to overcome many design and production limits. Engineers can design and construct organic shapes and lightweight structures that change the face of innovation while generating exceptional savings thanks to the dynamic combination of 3D printing and new optimization software. Loosely translated, 3D printers can skip assembly phases and produce structures that were impossible to build with conventional methods. A great example of this is a custom-printed metal rib cage for a cancer patient. In fact, 3D printing has shown to be a huge asset in the medical sector, particularly when it comes to body part reproduction, as it allows for the creation of custom-made 3D printed prosthetics that precisely fit the patient’s morphology. Aside from offering new design possibilities, 3-D printing allows for rapid prototyping and improvement. If testing reveals that design enhancements are required, all you need to do is upload a new design to the printer.

High Precision

In addition to flexibility in design, high precision is one of the strengths of 3D printing. This technology allows you to produce complex, high-level components without the need for time-consuming post-processing, saving you both time and money during the manufacturing process. Structures produced by 3D printers rarely require modification, however, in order to achieve precision metal manufacturers at times employ other tools as well–such as CNC Waterjet Machines.

Low wastage

CNC milling operation
Above: CNC milling operation/Image Source: Fractory

Milling, stamping, and otherwise processing large sheets of metal in the traditional way wastes a lot of material. 3-D printers, on the other hand, simply melt the powder or wire needed to build the skeleton and structure of the component layer by layer. After which, the printer’s extra powder can be removed and reused by the manufacturers. As a result, 3-D printing scrap rates are only 1% to 3%, and they’re predicted to drop to zero in the near future. Since it eliminates the pollutants associated with traditional manufacturing and supply chain transportation, the method is also less labour-intensive and has a far lower impact on the environment. The method not only saves resources but also lowers the cost of the materials used.

Cost-effectiveness

3D Printing is often far more cost-effective for small production lots. Consider a small spring that inflates airbags in the event of a collision as an example. In traditional manufacturing, a typical batch of metal exceeds 200 tonnes, much exceeding the annual demand for this little portion in any type of airbag. Furthermore, unlike a traditional metal-production facility, which may need the construction of power plants, roads, and bridges, the biggest investment in 3-D printing is the machine itself, which starts at a few thousand dollars. Hence, a 3-D–printing operation may be set up quickly with minimal cost. 3D printing allows for just-in-time production, which appeals to companies that create custom-tailored parts in small batches and want to scale up production as needed. Conventional manufacturing is nonetheless still the preferred choice for mass-produced metal products as the current 3D Printing technology poses certain limitations in terms of high-value production. Existing 3-D printers struggle to generate parts larger than 30 cm², and most printers can’t mix materials within a single object.

Possible Fields of Application in the Metal Industry

3D printer maintenance
Above: ZMorph Multitool 3D Printer/Image Source: Unsplash
  • Automotive industry: Development of prototypes, manufacture of components for the luxury segment, initial series part production runs
  • Aerospace: Jet engines
  • Railways: Spare parts
  • Tool manufacturing: Injection moulds
  • Medical technology: Prostheses, implants

Primarily Nickel, steel, titanium, copper, aluminium, and magnesium in their pure forms or as alloys as well as stainless steel are used.

3D printing emerges as the winner wherever complex geometries, small components, weight reduction, or a reduction in the number of components are required – regardless of the industry.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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