A number of innovative technologies are paving the way for 3D metal printing, but none are expected to evolve quite as rapidly in the next few years as binder jetting.
One of our strategic partners gives us access to Digital Metal technology to offer our customers the most advanced metal binder jetting services available today.
Curious if binder jetting is the right fit for your part? Read on to learn more about this cutting edge industrial 3D printing technology.
What Is Metal Printing Binder Jetting?
Binder jetting is a highly scalable metal 3D Metal printing process that consists of applying a binder to powder particles, bonding those particles layer by layer to form a near net shape part.
Much like metal injection molding (MIM), binder jetting is a two-step process that involves sintering the near net shape part in an oven post-printing to improve density and correct material properties following existing standards.
If you’re accustomed to using MIM for 3D metal printed parts, the transition to binder jetting is seamless.
When we evaluate a part to see if it’s a good fit for 3D metal printing binder jetting, we consider these factors:
Since binder jetting is such a cutting edge technology, many materials are still in the pipeline. Most of the binder jetting projects we’re quoting these days are for 17-4 PH stainless steel parts. But we can also use binder jetting for D2 tool steel.
We anticipate being able to work with copper, titanium, and 316 stainless steel in the near future. In the meantime, if your part requires materials that aren’t yet compatible with binder jetting, we can use our HP or Markforged 3D printing technologies instead.
We’re always transparent with customers when a technology isn’t right for their project. If you’re looking for a prototype, binder jetting probably isn’t the best fit.
When it comes to volume, binder jetting has a sweet spot of 2,000-10,000 units annually. The more we can optimize the build space for an individual part, the more value our customers get from this technology.
Part size, surface area, and volume
Binder jetting is ideal for small parts with an exceptional degree of complexity. We recommend a bounding box size of no more than 4” for these parts.
It’s also important to consider the volume to surface area ratio of a part. Bulky, dense parts with a high volume to surface area ratio are better suited for subtractive manufacturing (i.e. CNC machining), which whittles down material from a large block. High-volume parts are also prone to warping and distorting during sintering.
Parts with increased surface area and reduced volume (think: lots of thin walls) are the best fit for 3D metal printing services like binder jetting.
The bottom line is that for the right part, binder jetting can be a quick and cost-effective alternative to CNC machining. Lead times for exceptionally complex parts may span up to 2 months at a traditional machine shop. But with binder jetting, we can get you those same parts in just 7-10 days.