3D metal printing is becoming increasingly popular. And this is not surprising: each metal material for printing offers a unique combination of practical and aesthetic properties in order to meet the requirements for different products, be it prototypes, miniatures, decorations, functional parts or even kitchen utensils. The reasons for printing with metals are so compelling that 3D printing with metals is already being introduced into mass production. In fact, some 3D-printed parts have already caught up, and some have surpassed their properties, which are produced by traditional methods. Traditional production from metals and plastics is very wasteful - in the aviation industry, for example, up to 90% of materials are discarded, and the output of products lying within tolerances in some industries is no more than 30%. 3D printing with metals consumes less energy and reduces waste to a minimum. In addition, the finished 3D printed product can be up to 60% lighter compared to a milled or cast part. The aviation industry alone will save billions of dollars in fuel, by reducing the weight of structures, and after all, strength and lightness are also needed in other industries. Yes, and cost, too. Already some time I am very interested in the possibilities of 3d printing from metal, once I came across a good article on this topic, I think it will be interesting to you 3D metal printing technology Most metal 3D printing processes start with powder. Much can be said about the use of metal-printing 3D-printers. However, the main issues are the same as with any other 3D printers: software and hardware limitations, optimization of materials and printing with several materials. We will not talk much about software, just to mention that the largest publishers, such as Autodesk, SolidWorks, and SolidThinking, all are developing software products for use in bulk printing with metals so that users can implement a product of any imaginable form. Recently, there have been examples of the fact that metal-printed 3D parts can be just as strong as the traditionally produced metal components, and in some cases even surpass them. Products created using DMLS have mechanical properties equivalent to solid cast. Let's look at the available metal 3D printing technologies: Process number 1: Layer-by-layer powder fusion The process of 3D printing with metals, which most large companies use today, is known as fusing or sintering a powder layer. This means that a laser or other high-energy beam fuses into a single unit the particles of a uniformly distributed metal powder, thereby creating product layers, one after the other. There are eight major manufacturers of metal metal 3D printers in the world, most of them located in Germany. Their technologies are abbreviated as SLM (selective laser melting) or DMLS (direct metal sintering with a laser). Process number 2: Welding Binder ExOne produces 3D-printing of metal parts by applying a binder before kilning (image: ExOne) Another professional method with a layer-by-layer compound is the gluing of metal particles for subsequent roasting in a high-temperature furnace, where the particles are fused under pressure, forming a single metal unit. The print head applies the bonding solution to the powder substrate in layers, like an ordinary printer on sheets of paper, after which the product is sent to the kiln. Another similar, but in some details strikingly different technology, which is based on FDM printing - mixing metal powder in a metal paste. Using pneumatic extrusion, a 3D printer squeezes it out, just as a construction 3D printer does with cement to form 3D objects. After the desired form is printed, the objects are also sintered in a kiln. Another similar, but in some details strikingly different technology, which is based on FDM printing - mixing metal powder in a metal paste. Using pneumatic extrusion, a 3D printer squeezes it out, just as a construction 3D printer does with cement to form 3D objects. After the desired form is printed, the objects are also sintered in a kiln. Process number 3: Fusing You might think that among the technologies of metal printing there is no similar to the usual FDM, but this is not quite so. Of course, you will not be able to melt the metal thread in the hot end of your 3D printer, but the major manufacturers own and use such technology. There are two basic ways to print with all-metal material. One of them is called DED (Directed Energy Deposition) or laser surfacing. It uses a laser beam to fuse a metal powder, which is slowly released and precipitated from the extruder to form the layers of an object using an industrial manipulator. This is usually done inside a closed camera, however, the recent MX3D project has implemented a similar approach to 3D printing in the construction of a real full-size bridge. The other is called EBM (Electron Beam Manufacturing), it is a technology for forming layers of metal raw materials under the influence of a powerful electron beam, with its help creating large and very large structures. If you do not work in the defense complex of the Russian Federation or the United States, you are unlikely to see this technology alive. Another couple of new technologies that have just appeared, which are used only by their creators, are presented below - in the section on printers.