Protolabs High-performance metals for direct metal laser sintering

Editor: Briggette Jaya

Specialist in custom prototypes and low-volume production parts, Protolabs, now offers Inconel 718 and Maraging Steel 1.2709, expanding the company's list of Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) materials that make up a wide range of metals available for rapid prototyping and the manufacture of functional end-use parts with complex geometries.

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Inconel 718 is a superalloy used in the development of turbojet engines for aircraft, among a variety of other applications.
Inconel 718 is a superalloy used in the development of turbojet engines for aircraft, among a variety of other applications.
(Source: Protolabs)

According to Protolabs, Inconel 718, a nickel-based heat resistant alloy, is very strong, corrosion resistant and can be used at temperatures between -252°C and 704°C. Its high-temperature strength is derived from its ability to create a thick, stable passivating oxide layer at high temperatures, protecting the material from further attack, the company adds. Inconel, which has good tensile, fatigue, creep and rupture strength, is thus ideal for the aerospace and heavy industries – particularly, in the production of jet engines, rocket engine components, gas turbine parts, instrumentation parts, power and process parts and related equipment that are exposed to extreme environments.

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Inconel's geometric restrictions are:

  • a minimum wall thickness of 1mm and a minimum feature size of 1mm
  • minimum embossed details of 0.5mm in height and width, and 0.8mm for text and images
  • minimum engraved details of 0.5mm (depth) and 0.6mm (width), and a width of 1mm for text and images
  • a maximum component size of 245 X 245 X 300 mm.

New to Protolabs material list is also Maraging Steel 1.2709, a pre-alloyed ultra-high strength steel in fine powder form. It has good mechanical properties and can be made easily heat-treatable with a simple thermal age-hardening process. This steel, which offers high strength and hardness, is resistant to high-temperatures, making it suitable for tooling applications and high-performance industrial and engineering parts for use in aerospace and motor racing.

The geometric limits of Maraging Steel 1.2709 are:

  • a minimum wall thickness of 1mm and a minimum feature size of 1mm
  • minimum embossed details of 0.5mm in height and width and 0.8mm for text and images
  • minimum engraved details of 0.5mm in depth and 0.6mm in width, and a width of 1.0mm for text and images.

Apart from the materials mentioned, the company's range of metals available for its DMLS service includes aluminium, 316 stainless steel and titanium.

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