3d printing powders are a type of raw material used to make parts in a variety of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. They differ from filaments in that they are dispersed in powder form, rather than woven into a thread or extruded into a nozzle.
Powder formulations can be influenced by several factors, including particle size, surface finish, dimensional stability, and hardness. They can also be influenced by the addition of binder chemicals, additives and fillers to improve the powder despositability and printing behavior.
Most industrially significant metals can be processed through powder based 3D printing, including stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, copper, cobalt, nickel alloy, and chrome. However, energy requirements and appropriate techniques may vary from one metal to another.
SLS / Selective Laser Sintering
In the SLS process, a laser beam interacts with a powder bed to heat a cross section of the 3D model just below or at the melting point of the material to fuse the particles together. This method produces high resolution parts that can be molded into various shapes and sizes.
DED / Direct Energy Deposition
DED is a metal 3D printing technology that uses a focused energy source. This could be a laser, an electron beam, or a plasma arc. The powder and wire are deposited in layers as the print head traverses a X-Y plane.
The 3D printing process itself is a fairly complex process, but it can be used to produce parts at a much higher rate than conventionally fabricated ones. It has a lower cost than SLS or DMLS, requires no post-processing to prepare the part for use, and can be used with a large range of materials.