Which Metals are Currently Available for 3D Printing?

Which Metals are Currently Available for 3D Printing?

2022-05-31 17:07:17  News


Steel is one of the most commonly used metal materials in the industry and was the first metal material to be used for 3D printing. Currently, 3D printing can process many different types of steel, such as austenitic, duplex, martensitic, precipitate hardened stainless steel, TRIP/TWIP steel, Martensitic aging steel, tool steel, and ODS steel. Among them, the most commonly used are 316L stainless steel, 304 austenitic stainless steel, 17-4Ph, and 15-5pH martensitic precipitation hardening stainless steel, 18Ni300 Martensitic aging steel, and H13 tool steel.



Titanium and titanium alloys are ideal materials for 3D printing. First, 3D printing uses a small amount of material in total compared to other processes, making it more cost-effective in many applications, such as aerospace, medical (orthopedic implants), luxury cars, racing, and professional sports equipment. In these areas, where the cost of many parts is high (small amounts are needed), using more expensive materials for lightweight, increased strength, and durability based on 3D printing becomes a better option. 

Titanium alloys are biocompatible and corrosion-resistant and can be used as inert biomaterials for human implants. Today, the titanium alloy most commonly used in the 3D printing of orthopedic implants is Ti6Al4V (Ti64). 


Aluminum alloy 

Aluminum alloy is also currently one of the major metal 3D printing materials and is expected to grow in usage. Because the aluminum alloy is light and has good mechanical properties, the price is low. However, the mainstream aluminum alloy on the market is based on casting process development, which is not so handy for 3D printing. Because when aluminum is sintered, an oxide layer forms around the powder particles and needs to be removed at extremely high temperatures, but aluminum itself has a low melting point. 

At present, there are several aluminum alloys based on 3D printing on the market.  To use aluminum for 3D printing on a large scale, there will need to be breakthroughs in the material formulation and printing technology. 


Nickel alloy

Nickel alloy is a high-temperature resistant alloy and is often used to make parts that require high-temperature resistance. It is widely used in energy production, oil, and natural gas fields. The main nickel alloys currently used for 3D printing are Inconel 625 and 718


Cobalt chromium alloy 

Currently, many people do not know that cobalt-based alloys can be used for 3D printing.  However, their applications in orthopedics, aerospace, power generation, and dentistry are significant. ASTM F75 CoCr is commonly used, which has good high-temperature performance, high strength, corrosion resistance, wear-resistance, and biocompatibility. 


Copper and copper alloys

Copper and copper alloys are widely used in industry because of their excellent electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and ductility. But copper's high reflectivity and thermal conductivity make it difficult to 3D-print. Fortunately, 3D printing technology has improved in recent years, and there are now several ways to 3D print copper. 


Refractory metal 

Refractory metals are very resistant to heat and wear, mainly niobium, molybdenum, tantalum, tungsten, and rhenium. They have some common characteristics, melting point over 2000, high hardness at room temperature, high density, etc. Due to their very high melting points, these materials are very challenging for 3D printing. Currently, they are mainly printed from these materials by binder injection 3D printing technology, and then sintered at high temperature to obtain the final part.


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