How 3D Printing in Alumide Really Works
by Aura | January 12, 2018
Is it plastic? Is it a metal? Alumide is both at the same time! This 3D printing material combines the design flexibility of polyamide (SLS) with the shine of aluminum. The final 3D prints are polyamide (SLS) models with a metallic-looking surface. It’s your all-time favorite polyamide with a sparkle!
Read on if you’ve always wondered how 3D printing in alumide works and how you can get the perfect alumide 3D prints.
Adding a Sparkle to Polyamide
Alumide is a blend of polyamide (SLS) with aluminum powder. While the polyamide gives alumide the properties of a rigid plastic material, the aluminum in it gives the printed part a matte and metallic-looking surface.
Alumide has a high freedom of design and the prints are well-priced, turning it into the perfect material for beginners in 3D printing. This is a suitable material if you need a model with the similar mechanical characteristics of polyamide, combined with a metallic appearance. Alumide can also resist high temperatures and is slightly porous.
Alumide prints can have a natural finish, which is matte, grey and sparkly in appearance, or they can be finished with one of the five colors available at i.materialise: Rusty Orange, Brick Red, Moss Green, Sparkly Blue and Asphalt Black. We bet you can’t resist these charming color names! Which one is your favorite?
The Technology behind Alumide
Alumide is printed with Laser Sintering technology. With this 3D printing technology, a very thin layer of powder is spread on the surface of the powder bed, and a laser successively melts thin lines in the powder that bond together to form the layers of the model. The print chamber is heated to just below the melting point of the powder so at the end of the 3D printing process, you’ll have a big block of heated powder with the printed model inside.
After the cool-down period, the last steps of the printing process will be digging up the parts inside the block of powder, removing the loose powder from the parts and cleaning the 3D-printed models. At this point, the alumide parts are ready if you chose a natural finish. The process of dyeing the part in colorful finishes is done afterwards.
A picture (or a video) is worth a thousand words! Watch this video to understand how Laser Sintering works.
3D Design Tips for Alumide
When designing for 3D printing there are some design tips that you should consider in order to get a flawless 3D print in alumide.
- Wall thickness: The minimum distance between one surface of the model and the opposite sheer surface must be at least 1mm for alumide. Thinner walls would make your model too fragile for the 3D printing process.
- Maximum size: Models in alumide can be 650x330x560mm when choosing a natural finish, and 270x150x150mm for dyed models.
- Interlocking or enclosed parts: When printing in alumide it’s possible to print chains or interlinking parts. The space between the rings should be at least 0.4mm.
- Warping: During the 3D printing process, alumide is exposed to high temperatures. That’s the reason why designing big flat plains for alumide is not a good idea and should be avoided. Models with this design are subject to warping during the 3D printing process.
- Embossed and engraved details: Embossed letters on alumide parts should have a thickness of at least 1mm, a depth of 1.5 mm and an overall height of at least 4.5 mm. Engraved letters should have a minimum line thickness and depth of 0.8mm and an overall height of at least 3mm.
Read the Design Guides for Alumide on our website carefully in order to avoid surprises when you order your 3D prints online.
3D Prints in Alumide That We Love
The strength and freedom of design offered by alumide and its metallic look turns it into a good option for many 3D-printed options: gadgets, decorative items, cases or jewelry.
Do you want to explore the potential of alumide? Get a real look and feel for this 3D printing material and its different finishes by ordering one of our alumide sample kits!