The act of 3D Printing is not a seemingly complicated process. Generally speaking, a material is placed in the machine with the sole purpose of generating a 3D Printed piece that is comprised of one type of material. In order to add an additional material, a new filament must be added and extruded directly on the piece. The thought of including two different materials within one piece was once just a dream, but thanks to Aerosint, a Belgian Based 3D Printing company, that dream has become a reality.
A Partnership That Made It Possible
Aerosint is the company credited with the production of the first multi metal 3D Printed object, but they would not have been successful without a partnership with Aconity 3D. This company manufactured the Aconity Midi+ 3D Printer that made it possible to even consider multi metal 3D Printing. The laser powder bed fusion system, or LPBF, was instrumental in the process of producing the world’s first successful multi metal 3D Printed object.
Generally, with this 3D Printer one simple alloy could be produced at a time while utilising specifically designed melting points to fuse multiple metals together for a cohesive final product. The first successful piece took the step of fusing through melting points completely out of equation and took 5 hours and 40 minutes for the Midi+ 3D Printer to complete.
The First Successful Piece
The concept of multi-metal 3D Printing is not new. 3D Print enthusiasts and professionals have been chasing this, Holy Grail dream for as long as metal 3D Printing has been around. Attempts have been made, but the act of switching from one metal to another or bringing two various metals together into once piece seemed like a pipe dream.
With the successful multi-metal 3D Print from Aconity 3D, the doors have been opened. The first test piece was a combination of Copper, Chromium, and Zinc Alloy and 316 L with a height of 6.9mm and a diameter of 55mm. A total of 174 layers each measuring 50 microns each produced a singular multi metal disk in which the two distinctly colored metals can be easily seen on the cross section cutout. Images and a unique video of the accomplishment can be seen at All3DP.
What Does This Mean for the Industry?
The implications of the option of 3D Printing with multiple metals is endless. Once honed, this process can be implemented into a variety of different metal 3D Printers. Certain industries such as the automotive segment and aerospace can greatly be improved with this technology. The option of bringing two metals together within the manufacturing of a vehicle allows for complex alloys to be combined to improve strength and durability. Increasing strength and durability for products in both these industries has the potential to save many lives.
Additionally, other industries such as the jewelry industry will be positively impacted as well. Like the auto industry, jewelry manufacturers desire strength and durability in products they produce. Standard gold pieces often require additional metals added to improve the naturally brittle nature of pure gold. When using 3D Printing for jewelry manufacturing, the ability to add multiple metals to a piece would not merely add to the strength but aesthetic possibilities as well.
Jewelry pieces can become even more beautiful with a variety of metals and colors added to a design. Imagine having a beautifully crafted 3D Printed bracelet or ring with a variety of natural and vibrant hues from bringing multi-colored metals into one piece.
Multi-metal 3D Printing has vast potential in our world with the ability to add strength, durability, and a new aesthetic to a range of different industries. Although this concept is relatively new to the market, it will not take long to see multi-metal 3D Printing becoming a normalised concept for all forms of metal 3D Printing. 3D Printer professionals and enthusiasts have finally grasped the ability to take multiple metals and bring them together in beautiful harmony in one glorious piece. The possibilities are just now being discovered, but we can rest assured, multi-metal 3D Printing is just starting out in its illustrious and vast career within the industry.