3D printing Desktop Metal is first to commercialise titanium for bound metal production
USA — Titanium has been a challenging material for bound metal 3D printing because it is both extremely reactive in powder form and difficult to sinter. Desktop Metal has now qualified Titanium for manufacturing with the Studio System 2, becoming the first company to commercialise the material for additive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing company Desktop Metal, has qualified the use of titanium alloy Ti-6Al-4V (Ti64) for the Studio System 2, a metal 3D printing platform. With plans to begin shipping Ti64 in September, they will be the first and only company to make the material commercially available for extrusion-based bound metal additive manufacturing technologies.
Ti64 is the most widely used titanium alloy and is characterised by its high tensile strength, corrosion resistance, and biocompatibility. With a high strength-to-weight ratio, Ti64 is considered an ideal material for high-performance production applications in industries such as aerospace and defense, automotive, and oil and gas. In addition, its biocompatibility makes it particularly desirable in medical applications, such as with surgical devices and implants.
Ti64 processed on the 3D printing platform delivers tensile properties of 730 MPa yield strength, 845 MPa ultimate tensile strength, and 17 percent elongation. According to the company, these mechanical properties exceed those set by ASTM F2885-17 standards for metal injection moulded surgical implant applications.
The Studio System 2 is compatible with 316L stainless steel and Ti64 as well as all materials previously supported by the Studio System, including 17-4PH stainless steel, 4140 low-alloy steel, H13 tool steel, and copper. A broad portfolio of additional materials that take advantage of the Studio System 2’s streamlined, two-step process is in active R&D with new releases slated to roll out this year.
Key applications of titanium
With the Studio System 2, Ti64 parts demonstrate excellent mechanical properties and corrosion resistance on a more accessible platform than legacy powder bed fusion 3D printing alternatives. Examples of key uses cases include:
This machine bracket has been designed using a gyroid lattice infill and titanium in place of 17-4PH stainless steel to reduce weight and material while maintaining the required functional strength and stiffness. The resulting geometry would be impossible to produce using conventional manufacturing processes due to its complexity. 3D printing this new design on the Studio System 2 in Ti64 reduces the part weight by 59 percent.
Telescope Focus Ring
Small telescope focus rings hold lenses in place on a mobile telescope, which has multiple motors that are used to position and focus the lenses. 3D printing the rings in titanium ensures that all components are lightweight, allowing the use of smaller motors, reducing the wear on the components and the overall cost of the assembly. Typically this part is produced in low volumes, which would require investing in expensive tooling or custom fixturing using conventional manufacturing processes. The Studio System 2 supports printing up to six focus rings in less than 24 hours, which would be ready for installation in a matter of days.
A drone coupling is used to fasten two assemblies together on a drone frame. One of the main challenges with drones is battery life, which is predominantly determined by the weight of the drone. Producing the coupling in titanium enables significant weight reduction while maintaining the structural integrity required for the drone frame. The Studio System 2 supports low volume production of this part in quantities of 15 to 25 per week before moving it into mass production, all without any tooling or machining necessary.
Fuel Injector Nozzle
Fuel injector nozzles are critical for safe and reliable operations in the aerospace industry, where they are responsible for driving fuel into a burner for propulsion. This part features internal channels that can result in enhanced burner performance but would be impossible to create using conventional manufacturing processes. Titanium is an essential material for this application as the nozzle needs to be able to withstand extreme temperatures and pressures while remaining lightweight. With the Studio System 2, engineers can test many design variations of the nozzle in just days with as many as four versions of the nozzle printed in less than 24 hours.