When you have a part design that pushes the limits of what’s possible with conventional CNC machining, 3D metal printing can be an excellent alternative. The most common caveat with metal additive manufacturing is the part will probably require some finish machining after it comes off the printer.
Based on our experience with additive manufacturing and finish machining additive parts, we help our customers develop a comprehensive manufacturing process to ensure the best chance of a successful project the first time.
Why 3D Metal Printed Parts Require Finish Machining
When a 3D metal printed part comes into our shop, the accuracy and finish are comparable to a high-quality cast part. The surface is consistent, but not smooth, flat surfaces are relatively flat, and features match the model to about 0.010” depending on part and feature size.
If your part has critical sealing surfaces, precise locating features, tolerances tighter than 0.010”, or extremely small features, it will most likely require finish machining.
Here’s an example: a part we received had bores that required finish machining to precisely align a center shaft.
Some customers prefer to use their 3D metal printed parts as-is or choose to do the finish machining themselves. We’re happy to offer our expertise to ensure the project goes smoothly.
You may be wondering, “If a 3D metal printed part requires finish machining, why use 3D printing in the first place?”
It’s a great question! At Wagner Machine, our rule of thumb is that if you can manufacture a part using traditional machining, that’s the right choice. Metal additive manufacturing isn’t cheap, so we suggest reserving this service for parts with features that are difficult—if not impossible—to machine.
Parts with complex thin wall features, internal channels or tubes, or extreme undercuts that are hard to reach (even with 5-axis machining!) are all excellent candidates for 3D metal printing services.
Finish Machining at Wagner Machine
At Wagner Machine, we typically rely on wire EDM, milling, or turning to finish 3D metal printed parts. We have all of these capabilities in-house and can objectively determine the optimal machining method on a part-by-part basis.
Want to leverage our finish machining capabilities for your 3D printed part? We can coordinate machining as soon as the parts have been stress relieved. We look forward to working with you – Request a quote today!