With the announcement this week of a personal 3D metal printer, we thought we’d mention a new option for metal material from NanoSteel.
Metal 3D printers are most often fueled not by filament but by fine metal powders that are heat-fused into solid shapes using a variety of different approaches. But in all cases you have to have metal powder.
It’s not as simple as just chopping up hunks of steel into tiny bits. They must be very small and of uniform size to ensure the 3D metal printer produces objects with consistent surfaces. Out-of-size particles could appears as lumps on surfaces otherwise.
Strength is also a key consideration, as the purpose of 3D printing metal is to produce strong objects. This is where the chemistry of the steel is involved. To achieve fully strong metal prints, some processes involve significant post processing.
Meanwhile, NanoSteel has developed what they call a “metal-matrix composite” that apparently provides full strength without the requirement for any post processing (other than smoothing the surface, we presume). They say the “nano structure forms without any additional effort”. Strength, of course, comes from the presence of very small bonds between molecules and that’s what the traditional post processing would encourage.
These new features should simplify the production of 3D printed metal objects, and this opens up more possibilities for use of the technology, particularly in remote locations where post-processing heat treatments are not readily available.