3D Printing process: Selective Powder Deposition (SPD)
Iron and support powders cost: about $5 per pound.
Build volume of the printer: about 300x300x100 mm.
Horizontal resolution: 0.05mm
Vertical resolution, aka layer thickness: 0.3mm
Pourer diameter: 1mm
Min height of a detail: 0.3mm (that's one layer)
Min width of a detail: 1mm (that's one pourer diameters)
What metals are supported?
So far, we have tried high-carbon steel, copper-iron, and copper-nickel. Mild steel, copper-silver, copper-gold, silver-gold, gold-nickel, and silver-nickel should be possible too. Mild steel would also require a higher temperature kiln. Others metals, like aluminum, stainless, titanium, would require more research and a kiln with controlled atmosphere, like vacuum and argon.
What's the shrinkage?
There is no shrinkage. But there is about 2% shape distortion when baked in a stainless steel crucible, due to the horizontal thermal expansion of the crucible. But with ceramic crucibles, we have not noticed any shape distortion. So, it should be very small.
What's the print time?
Print time very much depends on the size and complexity of the object. Rough average would be about 24 hours.
Is there any post-processing required?
Yes. After filling the crucible with the powders, you would need to bake it in a kiln. For high-carbon steel the temperature is 1250°C, hold time is 3 hours. For copper-iron and copper-nickel the temperature is 1184°C, hold time is 2 hours.
What kind of kiln is required?
A cone 10 kiln with digital controller is recommended. A cone 8 might work as well. (A new kiln would cost you about $1000. A used one you might find for a few hundred.)
How can I buy the printer? How much does it cost?
You can order the printer by email. It costs $5000 plus shipping.
Where can I buy the consumables? (metal powders, support powders, infill metal, and crucibles)
You can buy consumables from 3rd parties. The powders should be able to flow though 0.9mm hole. For that, they should be spherical enough, and have particle size of about 50-100 microns. The powders and the infill metal shouldn't have too many impurities. For example, oxygen in the copper infill metal cause babbles in the printed object. The crucibles should withstand the baking temperature. It's probably better to buy consumables specifically intended for SPD process. We prefer consumables from TriDPrinting.com - please contact them directly. Their phone number is on their home page.