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Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM (Fraunhofer IFAM) has developed a metallic FDM/FFF 3D printing process. The two-step process involves both extrusion and sintering.
Although there are several exceptions to the rule, technologies used to 3D print plastic materials are generally very different to those used to 3D print metals.
Plastics - Type - Process - Deposition - Modeling
For plastics, the most common type of additive process is fused deposition modeling (FDM) or fused filament fabrication (FFF), which extrudes heated plastic through a nozzle in layers. Light-based techniques like stereolithography (SLA) are also becoming increasingly popular as a way of turning liquid resins into precisely fabricated objects.
In the world of metal additive manufacturing, these machines generally won’t do. Instead, very large and expensive machines are used to direct a laser onto metal powders, as is the case with selective laser melting (SLM). This fuses metal particles together to form a solid object. Again, this is a layer-by-layer process which allows a part to be made fully 3D instead of flat.
Somebody - Rulebook - Something - Fraunhofer - IFAM
It’s always exciting when somebody tries to rip up the rulebook and try something different, which is what Fraunhofer IFAM is doing with its new metallic FDM 3D printing process.
Although you can’t heat up most metals to melting point using an FDM 3D printer, you can try other ways to make metals printable—by mixing them with plastics, for example. In certain composites, a metal can become FDM printable without having to melt at all.
Techniques - Component - Something - SLM - Printer
Filament-mixing techniques like this aren't going to produce a component as strong as something made on an SLM printer, but are still very exciting for...
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