Metal 3D printing is becoming increasingly popular for producing complex, lightweight end-use parts, particularly in industries where corrosion resistance or strength are required. Stainless steel powder is a necessary raw material for these applications, and is used by SLM / Direct Metal Printing technology (aka laser sintering) manufacturers like EOS to produce their printed parts.
The success of the process depends on how well the metal powder is able to fuse together, and this is determined by its particle size, spherical shape and other characteristics. Stainless steel powders produced for use in this process must be of an extremely high quality and ideally have the same shape as the final part. AMETEK offers a wide range of metal powders for use in the SLM 3D printing process including 316L, 316L VPro and 17-4 PH alloys.
During the SLM / direct metal 3D printing process, a high-energy beam locally melts metal powder layer by layer to form your finished part. This is a fast, efficient and precise method that yields results very similar to those of conventionally processed metal parts.
A key factor that can affect how easily a particular metal prints is the way in which its temperature changes as the print progresses. This rapid change can cause the arrangement of atoms within a sample to shift rapidly, which in turn influences how easily and quickly the material can fuse together. By using an imaging tool at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, researchers were able to pinpoint how these factors influence the structure of a printed piece of 17-4 PH stainless steel and identify which compositions print reliably.