Streamline your manufacturing with precision 3D metal prototypes and low-volume metal production parts that would be impractical or cost prohibitive to machine. We create 3D metal parts using a fiber laser fired onto a metal plate, repeatedly adding layers of powdered metal and fusing them to previous layers. Although the resulting part is accurate with excellent surface quality and mechanical properties, additional post-processing is also available.
Metal 3D printing, also known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) is an additive layer technology. A metal 3D printer utilizes a laser beam to melt 20-60 micron layers of metal powder on top of each other. Powdered metal is spread across the entire build platform and selectively melted to previous layers. This additive process allows metal parts to be grown out of a bed of powdered metal. The process is like other polymer-based 3D printers that use powder bed fusion.
|Stainless Steel (PH1)||15-5 PH, DIN 1.4540 & UNS S15500||20 or 40 Micron Layers||30-35 HRC Built, Post Hardened to 40 HRC||High Hardness & Strength||Prototype & Production Parts|
|Stainless Steel (GP1)||17-4, European 1.4542, German X5CrNiCuNb16-4||20 or 40 Micron Layers||230 ± 20 HV1 Built, Ground & Polished to 250-400 HV1||High Toughness & Ductility||Engineering Applications|
|Cobalt Chrome (MP1)||ISO 5832-4 & ASTM F75||20, 40 or 50 Micron Layers||35-45 HRC Built||High Temperature Resistance||Turbines & Engine Parts|
|Maraging Steel (MS1)||18% Ni Maraging 300, European 1.2709, German X3NiCoMoTi 18-9-5||20 or 40 Micron Layers||33-37 HRC Built, Post Hardened to 50-56 HRC||Easily Machinable & Excellent Polishability||Injection Molding, Tooling & Conformal Cooling|
|Aluminum AlSi10Mg||Typical Casting Alloy||30 Micron Layers||Approx 119 ± 5 HBW||Low Weight & Good Thermal Properties||Automotive & Racing|
|Nickel Alloy IN718||UNS N07718, AMS 5662, AMS 5664, W.Nr 2.4668, DIN NiCr19Fe19NbMo3||40 Micron Layers||30 HRC Built, Post Hardened 47 HRC||Heat & Corrosion Resistant||Turbines, Rockets & Aerospace|
|Stainless Steel (316L)||ASTM F138||20 Micron Layers||85 HRB||Corrosion & Pitting Resistant||Surgical Tools, Food & Chemical Plants|
|Titanium Ti-64 *||ASTM F2924||30 or 60 Micron Layers||320 ± 15 HV5||Light Weight, High Strength & Corrosion Resistance||Aerospace & Motorsport Racing|
|Titanium Ti-64 ELI *||ASTM F136 Properties||30 or 60 Micron Layers||320 ± 15 HV5||Corrosion Resistance & Biocompatibility||Medical, Biomedical & Implants|
*Contact a Fathom expert for more information.
AlSi10Mg is a typical casting alloy with good casting properties and is used for cast parts with thin walls and complex geometry. The alloying elements silicon and magnesium lead to high strength and hardness. The alloy also features good dynamic properties and is therefore used for parts subject to high loads. Parts in Aluminum AlSi10Mg are ideal for applications which require a combination of good thermal properties and low weight.
Cobalt Chrome MP1 produces parts in a cobalt-chrome-molybdenum-based superalloy. This class of superalloy is characterized by having excellent mechanical properties (strength and hardness), corrosion resistance and temperature resistance. Such alloys are commonly used in biomedical applications such as dental and medical implants. They are also for high-temperature engineering applications such as in aerospace engines.
Maraging Steel MS1 is a martensite steel with increased hardenability. Its chemical composition corresponds to U.S. classification 18% Ni Maraging 300, European 1.2709 and German X3NiCoMoTi 18-9-5. This kind of steel is characterized by having excellent strength combined with high toughness. The parts are easily machinable and polished after the building process. They can be easily post-hardened to more than 50 HRC.
Stainless Steel GP1 is a stainless steel. Its chemical composition corresponds to U.S. classification 17-4, European 1.4542 and German X5CrNiCuNb16-4. This kind of steel is characterized by having good mechanical properties, especially excellent ductility in laser processed state and is widely used in a variety of engineering applications. This material is ideal for many part-building applications such as functional metal prototypes, small series products, individualized products or spare parts.
Stainless Steel PH1 is a stainless steel. The chemical composition conforms to the compositions of 15-5 PH, DIN 1.4540 and UNS S15500. This kind of steel is characterized by having excellent mechanical properties, especially in the precipitation hardened state. This type of steel is widely used in a variety of medical, aerospace and other engineering applications requiring high hardness and strength. This material is ideal for many part-building applications such as functional metal prototypes, small series products, individualized products or spare parts.
Titanium Ti64 (Ti6Al4V) is a Titanium alloy. This well-known alloy is characterized by having excellent mechanical properties and corrosion resistance combined with low specific weight and biocompatibility. The ELI version (extra-low interstitials) has particularly high purity.
Fathom can take your DMLS part to the next level by offering in house finishing options to meet your needs. We can also manage any outsource finishing needs for your DMLS parts. Parts built on a DMLS machine have a raw, rough finish comparable to a fine investment cast, with a surface roughness of approximately 350 R a- µ inch or R a-µm 8.75, or a medium turned surface. This surface roughness can be improved all the way up to 1 R a- µ inch or R a-µm 0.025, qualifying as a super mirror finish. There are several processes available that can be used to achieve the desired surface roughness or finish.
Abrasive blasting is the operation of forcibly propelling a stream of abrasive material (media) against a surface under high pressure to smooth a rough surface. Abrasive blasting services are included standard for all DMLS projects. If a “raw” DMLS part is desired, this should be noted at the time of the RFQ when addressing the desired surface roughness. Abrasive blasting with grit and ceramic media provides a satin, matte finish of approximately 150 R a- µ inch or R a-µm 24. This finish is largely uniform but does not provide a 100% uniform finish.
Shot peening is a process used to produce a compressive residual stress layer and modify mechanical properties of metals. It entails the use of media to impact a surface with sufficient force to create plastic deformation. It is similar to blasting, except that it operates by the mechanism of plasticity rather than abrasion. Peening a surface spreads, it plastically, causing changes in the mechanical properties of the surface. Depending on the part geometry, part material, shot material, shot quality, shot intensity and shot coverage, shot peening can increase fatigue life from 0–1000%. Shot peening is used primarily for foundries for deburring or descaling surfaces in preparation for additional post-processing.
When projects have geometries in low quantities that are not tolerance dependent, the best finishing option is an optical polish. Optical polishes are extremely cost effective and the best way to achieve a brilliant finish. Due to surface porosity of DMLS metals, .003” to .010” of surface material is removed depending upon geometry. If this option is desired, it is imperative that designers or engineers consult with Fathom prior to building, as specific surfaces may need to be offset with additional material in order to ensure part integrity after post-processing. Optical polishing is not ideal for large batches as it lends itself to an inconsistent finish from part to part.
Electrochemical polishing, also referred to as electro polishing, is an electrochemical process that removes material from metal parts through polishing, passivation and deburring. It is often described as the reverse of electroplating—differing from anodizing in that the purpose of anodizing is to grow a thick, protective oxide layer on the surface of a material rather than polish. The process may be used in lieu of abrasive fine polishing in micro structural preparation and is an inexpensive option for DMLS projects that are not tolerance dependent. This creates a bright uniform finish. The extent to which electro polishing is successful depends upon the degree of preparation of the treated surfaces.
Abrasive Flow Machining (AFM), also known as extrude honing, is a method of smoothing and polishing internal surfaces and producing controlled radii. A one-way or two-way flow of an abrasive media is extruded through a workpiece, smoothing and finishing rough surfaces. One-way systems flow the media through the workpiece, then it exits from the part. In two-way flow, two vertically opposed cylinders flow the abrasive media back and forth. The process is particularly useful for difficult to reach internal passages, bends, cavities and edges. This is an inexpensive option for DMLS projects that are not tolerance dependent and a more uniform surface roughness. The extent to which AFM is successful depends upon the degree of preparation of the treated surfaces.
Electroplating is a process that uses electrical current to reduce ions of a desired material from a solution and then coat a conductive object with a thin layer of the metal material. Electroplating is primarily used for depositing a layer of metal to bestow a desired property (e.g., abrasion and wear resistance, corrosion protection, lubricity, aesthetic qualities). Another application uses electroplating to build up thickness on undersized parts. Plating is also an inexpensive method of improving surface roughness, with the reduction in roughness once again hinging upon the degree to which the surface is treated prior to plating. DMLS parts can also be plated in their raw state and then finished in combination with another method.
Micro Machining Process (MMP) is a mechanical-physical-chemical surface treatment applied to items placed inside a treatment tank, providing highly accurate selective surface finishes. The desired surface finish is obtained by using MMP only on those areas where that particular finish is required. MMP begins with a detailed analysis of the surface state of the item to be treated, establishing the processing parameters required to meet the customer’s objectives. MMP can finely distinguish and selectively apply different primary roughness, secondary roughness and waviness profiles to surfaces. This process has selective application and is ideal for projects requiring precision tolerance finishing to a large number of parts, as well as parts with internal passages that cannot be reached by an alternate method.
CNC finishing permits high quality contoured milling applications to achieve tight tolerances. Detail-oriented precision can be accomplished with 3-axis, 5-axis and 6-axis CNC lathes. Conventional fixed headstock and Swiss-style CNC lathes can be utilized to support complex operations such as cross drilling and cross tapping, cross milling and slotting as well as C-axis milling and off-center work. Proper fixturing can yield tolerances as tight as 1 micron or (.00004”). Should this post processing option be desired, pre-build planning is required to add sufficient material to machined features and surfaces so that tolerances can be met.
The advantages of DMLS are numerous. DMLS is perfect for projects that require design freedom and rapid parts. Parts with undercuts, draft angles, cavities, tooling, jigs, rotors, fixtures and impellers are some of the pieces that can be made using DMLS. Additionally, multiple pieces such as mountings, sectioned parts and fasteners can be streamlined into a single part. DMLS has been particularly advantageous to the aerospace industry because it allows parts to be produced that were previously impossible to manufacture.
There are a few limitations to DMLS. The parts produced can be grainy. It can be time consuming to remove the metallic support structure and may require additional machining.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering was created by the German firm EOS. The timeline of DMLS is as follows:
Using Fathom for your AM project is easy. Fathom utilizes a state-of-the-art on-demand online platform that provides our clients with unlimited access to quotes and orders for prototyping and production parts. Our production team is ready to meet your needs with a wide range of rigid and flexible material options. Fathom also offers advanced and expedited services. Companies of all sizes trust us from medical to consumer products, electronics, automotive, aerospace and more, including 9 of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies. Receive fast DMLS quotes and quick turnaround on parts through Fathom’s SmartQuote platform.
At Fathom we offer a unique advantage of speed and agility-our experts help companies go from concept to prototype to manufacturing in ways not previously possible.
Let’s get started.
Fathom is driven by advanced technologies and methods that enhance and accelerate today’s product development and production processes.