Machine Design
Rapid prototyping comes to specialty metals and alloys

Rapid prototyping comes to specialty metals and alloys

FineLine Prototyping, Raleigh,N. C., recently expanded its direct-metal laser sintering (DMLS) and casting. It also added additive manufacturing to create custom parts and prototypes made of titanium, Inconel, steel, aluminum, and several other specialty alloys, many common in the medical and aerospace industries.

These metal parts show the range of 3D metal printing and casting at FineLine Prototyping. They include a small metal linkage, a cobalt-chromium heat exchanger components, and a small chessboard (with an ant to show scale).

Custom parts or prototypes get done in two to four days using a 3D printer with a working volume of 10 × 10 × 11 in. The 3D printer builds up parts out of layers of metal as thin as 20 microns, making fine details possible. The process can resolve features down to 0.005 in. Tolerances on features smaller than 1 in. can be as small as ±0.002 in. Surface roughness on parts is approximately 130 μin. RMS.

On cast-metal parts, dimensions can’t exceed 3 in., part volume can’t exceed 1.5 in.3, and features can be no smaller than 0.01 in. Tolerances range from ±0.003 in. for features smaller than 1 in. and ±0.005 in. for features larger than 1 in. If tighter tolerances are required, secondary machining operations such as drilling, slotting, milling and reaming can be used. Surface finish on cast parts is approximately 32 RMS — similar to that of die-cast parts.

Resources: FineLine Prototyping

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