Due in part to a rapid increase in competitors to meet the rapidly growing demand of larger metal part manufacturers, metal 3D printing is getting bigger and faster. Puris, a US-based leading producer of titanium powder for additive manufacturing, collaborated with ExOne to produce the largest complex, 3D-printed titanium part for commercial use ever 3D printed.
“There is a lot of activity in this arena and larger parts have been printed, but we believe this is the largest complex titanium part to be printed to date,” said Puris’ CEO Craig Kirsch. “The milestone was achieved by the combination of our team’s deep metallurgical and powder-production expertise and ExOne binder-jetting technology. It is significant that the part was processed to full density and printed safely using affordable, available powder.”
The part was printed using ExOne’s binder-jetting technology and was processed to 100 percent density. Destined to the aerospace industry, the part measures an estimated 19” x 19” x 11”, with a cross-section thickness of 0.375-inch and a weight of approximately 31 lb (about 15 Kg).
The part was produced on the ExOne M-Print 3D printer, which has a print box of 32” x 20” x 16”. The work was performed Puris’s Bruceton Mills plant, under the direction of the Puris metallurgy team, which includes pioneers in spherical titanium powder gas atomization. The use of binder-jetting technology allowed Puris to print the part at room temperature, eliminating residual stress buildup, as well as the chemical-property and microstructure changes that occur in other metal 3D-printing technologies. Mr. Kirsch explained that these are all critical aspects to commercial use of 3D-printed parts.
“We are actively working on a number of development programs with other customers interested in bringing large, 3D-printed parts into the additive manufacturing mainstream. Size is currently constrained only by the printer box itself, which presents advancement opportunities for ExOne to develop larger direct-printing machines,” Kirsch added.
Puris has printed large parts using Inconel alloy powder, as well, and is able to print with other high-performance alloys. Additive is still a microscopic percentage of industrial metal manufacturing, but the growth rates are inversely proportional to the size of the market. Bigger parts for bigger markets means that the demand for powder is growing exponentially. Good news for companies like Puris (and its competitors).