Jun 22, 2016 | By Tess

Online 3D printing service i.materialise has just announced that it has added a brand new 3D printing material to its already extensive selection: aluminum. The new material, which according to the company is ideal for manufacturing lightweight but strong metal end-use parts, is currently available through an official trial launched by the 3D printing service.

Aluminum, which is the most commonly used non-ferrous (or low-iron) metal, offers many benefits as a 3D printing metal material, most notably its light weight properties. i.materialise presents their new offer for aluminum 3D printing as a reliable way for designers, engineers, and makers to create strong, very lightweight, and precise metal parts. What’s more, the new material can be used for a wide variety of purposes such as manufacturing spare parts, functional parts, and design objects like jewelry.

Unlike milled aluminum, which you’ll be familiar with from your everyday aluminum foil, 3D printed aluminum has a slightly duller finish. Rather than be bright and shiny, it offers a more subtle matte finish, with a slightly rougher texture as can be seen in the images above and below.

To 3D print with aluminum, i.materialise will be using the additive manufacturing method of direct metal laser sintering or DMLS, which consists of a laser beam and a fine metal powder, in this case an aluminum powder. In short, the laser beam sinters the metal powder in a particular shape (following your 3D model) layer by layer until your object is complete. When the laser sintering is done, i.materialise technicians can remove your model from the bed of metal powder and carefully remove any support structures and finish the piece.

If you are interested in exploring aluminum 3D printing, i.materialise offers some tips to help with your 3D model design. First, printing with aluminum allows for very small details to be made (even as small as 0.25mm). The minimum wall thickness for a print should be minimum 0.5mm for a small surface, and 1mm if you’re designing larger sections. Additionally, DMLS provides a high dimensional accuracy, and aluminum has a general accuracy range of 2% . For the moment, i.materialise can print models up to a size of 250 x 250 x 295mm out of their new metal material.

If you’re interested in trying out i.materialise’s new aluminum 3D printing material, be sure to check it out while the trial is running. Prints are expected to ship within 15-18 days of placing the order.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Service

 

 

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