Let’s start with the basics - what is powder bed fusion?
3D printing methods are generally grouped into types depending on how the technology operates. Powder bed fusion is a type of 3D printing where a laser or electron beam melts and fuses a layer of powdered material. The process begins with a very thin layer of powder evenly distributed across a build platform that is fused into a deliberate cross-section by an energy source. As the process continues, these layers are fused on top of each other to create a three-dimensional object.
What is DMLM?
It’s a type of powder bed fusion in which a laser achieves full melt of the powdered metal to form a homogenous part. It is a highly popular 3D printing technology and achieves great results with mechanical properties above casting grade components and nearing wrought properties. At Stratasys Direct, all of our metal 3D printers utilize DMLM technology.
What is DMLS?
It’s the same thing. While the name may imply a sintering method versus a melting method, in actuality DMLS 3D printers are utilizing DMLM technology.
Well, how do I know what I’m getting?
Whether you specify DMLS or DMLM, at Stratasys Direct you’re still getting great metal 3D printed parts with excellent mechanical properties. The only real difference is the name of the machine that we may use to print your design.
So, what is sintering?
Sintering occurs when metal particles are compacted together using a combination of heat and pressure. During the sintering process, these metal particles are not heated enough to achieve liquefication or melting point. The temperature used for sintering is below the melting point of the metal material.
Do true metal sintering processes exist?
Yes! Traditional sintered metal parts are created by a variety of processes. An example is metal injection molding. These parts are created by pouring metal powder into a die or mold cavity then compacted at room temperature under great pressure. The metal mass is then placed into a furnace and sintered, fusing the particles together without melting it.
Metal sintering processes exist for 3D printing too. These machines print a metal and binder combination, layer by layer in a similar way to traditional filament 3D printer or material jetting printer. Then, the binder is either removed via a secondary process, or it’s burned out during the sintering process which typically also takes place in a heated furnace environment.