Previously on this blog, we explored the advantages of 3D metal printing and provided expert insight on how to determine which capability is right for your part. We help our customers make this determination based on factors like part design, functionality, and requirements.
If 3D metal printing is the ideal manufacturing method for your part, there may be opportunities to optimize your design for manufacturability (DFM) to reduce post processing. Today, we’ll review several DFM tips for 3D metal printing at Wagner Machine—but first, a little bit about our 3D metal printing partner.
The VELO3D SupportFree™ Process
Not all 3D metal printing solutions are created equal. We’ve partnered with VELO3D because their machines offer the most advanced capabilities available in metal additive manufacturing, with process control, traceability, and build monitoring that is second to none. Their SupportFree™ Process is a cut above other laser powder bed fusion (LBPF) solutions.
Nearly all 3D metal printed parts require support structures, and removing these structures from complex parts is a difficult task that can add cost and compromise quality.
Unlike other LBPF solutions, the VELO3D SupportFree™ Process allows us to print even the most complex parts without requiring supports, which unlocks maximum part performance.
Design Considerations for Support-free 3D Metal Printing
Support-free metal printing is ideal for parts with exceptionally complex internal geometries. These parts often control the flow of fluids or the transfer of heat. If you’re interested in support- 3D metal printing at Wagner Machine, keep these considerations in mind when designing your part:
- Overhangs: We have the ability to print angles entirely without supports, but the degree of the angle matters. For an unconstrained plane, we recommend designing the wedge above 10 degrees. If your part features a constrained plane, the wedge can be as low as 0 degrees.
- Circular holes: It’s possible for us to build inner diameters up to 100mm without supports. That’s a 10-fold increase from the 810mm diameters that standard 3D metal printers can achieve without supports.
- Domes: Domes are notorious for requiring supports that are impossible to remove without compromising the part. But we can print enclosed domes with an interior diameter of 100mm without supports.
- Conical surfaces: Outward growing cones that are wider on top require supports at angles of 10 degrees or lower. We recommend designing these angles above 30 degrees for support-free printing. Inward growing cones that are wider on the bottom are stable at any angle.
- Thin pins and thin walls: We can print pins as thin as 190 microns (.008”) in diameter for low angles of ~15 degrees. As the part becomes more vertical, we can print down to 130 microns (.005”). Thin, leak-tight walls can be as thin as 325 microns (.013”) at 15 degrees and down to 150 (.006”) microns when vertical.
- Aspect ratio: We have the ability to print aspect ratios of up to 3000:1.
Want to see if 3D metal printing is the right fit for your part? Let’s have a conversation! Send us your model and we’ll steer you in the right direction.