3D Printing in Steel is now Possible!
by Joris | January 27, 2011
Today we launch Stainless Steel 3D printing. This will allow designers to 3D print in steel and give them more freedom to design beautiful things. This is especially true because 3D printed steel comes in 7 different finishes. These finishes allow you to get your steampunk on and 3D print wonderfully old looking new things.
Examples of Steel 3D Prints:
3D Printed Steel Finishes
The Technology Behind 3D Printing Steel
We use steel powder to 3D print steel objects. The powder literally gets glued together with a binding agents. This video below runs you through the entire steel 3D printing process.
The process itself takes 5 days and involves a lot of steps, machinery and labor.
- Stainless Steel powder is spread out in the printer
- A printing head deposits binder on the parts that will become your design.
- A heating lamp dries the layer.
- A roller rolls out a new layer of powder for the next layer of your design.
- The model is now very fragile & porous. It is put in a curing oven for 24 hours.
- After this the loose powder is removed.
- Bronze powder is added.
- You design then goes into another oven for 24 hours.
- The bronze is infused into the design and hardens.
- Supports are then removed and the model is given its finish.
Price of Your Steel 3D Print
You can upload a 3D model here and you will instantly see the price of your steel 3D print.
Here’s how the price is calculated:
- The price is mainly influenced by the volume of the model. The price for one cubic cm is 6 USD.
- The minimum price of an order is 16 USD (this is not a setup cost).
- Designs that are compact get a special discount. The more material you have within the imaginary box around your model, the bigger your discount gets.
- Sparse models, on the other hand, might get a penalty since they occupy more space in the printer. You can find more details about this on our material page.
- Black and gold finishes cost 5 USD.
3D Printed Steel: What to Expect
The process has a minimum detail level of 1 mm. Because the model is fragile during production you can not make very thin walls. A 3 mm wall thickness is advised. In some cases you can make thinner walls but only if this does not cause the model to collapse on itself during production. We have a basic design guide with some design rules for you here.
If you need any help or advice you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you can see from the images Stainless Steel 3D prints have a somewhat handmade rustic look. Uniform smoothness is hard to achieve with this process. The final step is a polishing step. This means that lower areas of your design will look rougher and darker than higher areas. Round or exposed areas will shine more and be smoother.
Stainless Steel 3D printing is still a very new and very experimental process still in development. Sometimes models may warp or bend in the ovens. This means that the dimensional accuracy of the process will vary somewhat. High levels of precision required for mechanical and engineering uses are difficult to achieve consistently. Color differences between models have also known to occur.
You can not make very fragile or very thin models. Nor can you make interlinked chains or designs that have very thin unsupported structures emanating from them.
You could make jewelry with Stainless Steel 3D printing. But, please be aware that the material contains bronze and skin irritations and redness have been known to occur.
Technical Specifications of 3D Printed Steel
- The maximum build volume is 100 by 25 by 43 cm.
- The process is reasonably accurate at 1mm.
- Minimum wall thickness is generally 3mm.
- Density is 8.07 grammes per cubic cm.
- Ultimate tensile strength is 682 MPa.
- Young’s module is 147 GPa
- Hardness as measured on micro Vickers is 26 – 30 HRC
- The melting point of the material is 830 Celsius.
Get Your Steel 3D Print
You can upload a 3D model here. You will instantly see the final price of your steel 3D print.