From pencil holders to robotic arms, 3D printing can help accomplish many bold projects. What could take hours, days and even months to complete can now be printed with this state-of-the-art technology, which creates unique patterns. Even though there are a lot of 3D printing ideas, this technology is still new to many people.
Can 3D printers also be used for metal models?
In general, yes. A 3D printer can print metal. However, the process and materials used to print the metal are slightly different. In addition, not all 3D printers can print metal.
In the 3D printing process there are different manufacturing processes, and for the 3D printing of the metal there are 3 top ways used – bonding of the materials, fusion in powder coating and direct energy deposition.
These methods use metal powder or metal wires to layer the materials and print the design in 3D. However, metal 3D printing cannot be done at home (as is the case with other 3D printed models), because this process is done thanks to special, very expensive printers, compatible with metal printing.
If we talk about metal 3D printing, there are people or companies who can choose to use a laser cutter. This is because 3D printed models for which metal is used can be expensive and can take a long time to make.
Nevertheless, the two options are quite different. While 3D printing is an additive process, laser cutting is a subtractive process. Depending on the needs of those who want to make 3D models, laser cutting can make more parts at a faster rate. Laser cutting is more convenient in this case and allows better handling of objects and the necessary metal.
Given the digital trends in design, many people would like to test 3D metal printing at home, but this is very difficult due to the cost. Metal 3D printing is extremely expensive due to the work process and the special 3D printers required.
An alternative would be to use metal-like raw materials to make 3D-looking printed metal objects. Such materials give the illusion that the object made (such as a pencil holder) is made of metal.