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3D Printed Prosthetics

By Erin Stone

3D Printing Takes the Cost of Complexity to Zero

3D Printing Takes the Cost of Complexity to Zero

Whats is the definition of “game changer” for metals manufacturing? Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), a 3D printing process that eliminates binding agents and uses 400-1000 W lasers to melt micro powders together, layer by layer until a 3D CAD model of a part is built, is one of the 3D manufacturing processes that are the the epitome of “game changer” according to Hod Lipson or Cornell University.   Read more

By Erin Stone

Just How Small Can DMLS Print?

Just How Small Can DMLS Print?

3D metal printing is in its element when it comes to production parts at micro scales. While machine development is focusing on creating DMLS paltforms that can print parts over 14″, Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), current DMLS capabilities are perfect for small, complex parts. 3D printing enables i3D MFG™ to deliver integral tiny, complex parts in Aluminum, Titanium, Maraging Steel, Stainless Steel and Inconel to Aerospace, Prosthetics, Medical Devise, UAV/UAS, Rocket/Spacecraft, Oil & Gas, Firearms, and Recreational Gear industries. For the part shown, a .015″ (15 thousandths of an inch) high latticed geometry was grown in Maraging (tool) steel. Machining the tiny part out of such a tough metal was expensive and problematic. Since DMLS build parts from mirco powder layers, laser melted together one micro layer at a time, 3D printing precise micro geometries is not much more difficult than printing large bulky parts – in fact, the larger the mass on a DMLS machine, the greater the risk of delamination and failed builds.

DMLS Micro Parts in Production Quantities

Currently, DMLS can accurately and repeatably manufacture parts as small as .030″ in Aluminum and Inconel and .015″ in Stainless Steel, Maraging Steel and Titanium. Additionally, complex assemblies of small to medium-sized  parts can be printed as a single part, eliminating weld lines, gaskets and fasteners. With micro parts, this can be a huge savings in precision assembly labor. Combine that  with a cost effective means of manufacturing small, complex parts in ferrous and non-ferrous metals ranging from Aluminum that does not register on the HRC scale to Maraging Steel that can be heat treated to 54 HRC, and the design innovations are astounding. Exotic metals also become affordable because DMLS does not produce the 30-70% scrap that traditional machining operations might. Contact i3D™ to learn more about our DMLS, Wire EDM, 3D Scanning and Design-for-3D serv

By Erin Stone

3D Printed Maraging Steel Prosthetic Parts Save Time & Money

3D Printed Maraging Steel Prosthetic Parts Save Time & Money  

Additive manufacturing using maraging steel offers reductions in traditional manufacturing material consumption, labor and machine time. Maraging Steel, or Tool Steel is commonly used in the prosthetics industry because of its durability and strength. Those same material qualities also make it expensive to machine because of the wear and tear it puts on CNC and milling equipment. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), a 3D metal printing process dramatically reduces the time and expense associated with maraging steel manufacturing.

For the prosthetics industry, this makes intricate designs cost effective and, in some cases, makes impossible machined parts manufacturable. DMLS lasers micro layers of metal powder together at tolerances between +/-.002 and +/-.005 at densities nearing 100%. The process is perfect for small batch production and the functional parts can be post processed in the same manner as machined or cast parts.  After heat treatment DMLS maraging steel typically has a 50-53 HRC; therefore, post process prior to heat treat is often preferred.

Additional Additive Manufacturing Benefits for Prosthetics

Additive manufacturing eliminates traditional design-for-manufacturing constraints and allows limitless design-for-3D part production. Prosthetics designs often involve multi-part assemblies and complex geometries all geared towards maximum mobility. Like the human body, organic shapes and streamlined part interaction make for better motion. DMLS can print assemblies as single parts, eliminating gaskets, weld lines, and seams that are often failure points or add labor costs to production. 3D metal manufacturing also enables conformal micro channels to be built into parts and lattice structures to be manufactured for weight reduction. Because multiple 3D CAD files can be run on the same build, custom parts tailored to specific patient requirements can be built simultaneously, reducing NRE and tooling costs. i3D™ Manufacturing specializes in 3D metal additive manufacturing in Maraging Steel, Stainless Steel (17-4 and 15-5), Titanium, Aluminum, and Inconel.

i3DMFG Metals For Additive Manufacturing

By i3d

Oregon Welcomes i3D MFG™ 3D Metal Printing

Oregon Welcomes i3D MFG™ 3D Metal Printing

Why would a new small business opening in The Dalles, Oregon be newsworthy to Aerospace Manufacturing and Design Magazine? Aerospace is big in the Pacific Northwest and the UAV/UAS giant Insitu is located 20 minutes from i3D™ Manufacturing’s Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) factory. 3D metal printing has emerged as a critical component in aerospace, rocket, and UAV design and manufacturing, but until 2014, there were no Northwest DMLS service providers. Insitu, Boeing, and the like were forced to use services thousands of miles  away, reducing some of the lead time and cost advantages 3D printing is known for. Oregon is defined by innovation and i3D™’s 3D printing technology is at the forefront of advanced and additive manufacturing. DMLS moves 3D printing from the prototyping realm into true production parts manufacturing. DMLS parts are used in final assemblies by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE, etc. In addition to aerospace, i3D™ also provides parts for medical and dental device applications, firearms accessory manufacturers, the energy and recreational gear industries, and automotive parts users.

The Future of Manufacturing

In 2013, manufacturing accounted for 28% of Oregon’s economy, over $65 billion in output. So, its not surprising that the Portland Tribune and Portland Business Journal also featured i3D™ in their Summer 2014 publications. As opposed to traditional, or subtractive manufacturing where parts are carved out of billet, the additive manufacturing process starts with 20-40 micron layers of powdered metal and uses a laser to melt thousands of micro layers together, one layer at a time based on a 3D CAD model – adding material only where the model dictates.  The no-waste process enables parts to be built that cannot be traditionally manufactured, including complex geometries, lattice and honeycomb structures, conformal channels, and single part builds of multi-part assemblies. i3D™ prints stock metals including Titanium, Aluminum, Inconel, 15-5 and 17-4 Stainless Steel, and Maraging Tool Steel as well as custom powders created for specific customer applications. The Dalles has a long history of metal manufacturing and gave i3D™ a warm welcome to its community and the Columbia River Gorge region. Both The Dalles Chronicle and Gorge Technology Alliance celebrated i3D™’s headquarters locating in Oregon. 

3D Printing Takes the Cost of Complexity to Zero
Just How Small Can DMLS Print?
3D Printed Maraging Steel Prosthetic Parts Save Time & Money
i3DMFG Metals For Additive Manufacturing
Oregon Welcomes i3D MFG™ 3D Metal Printing