What is the best metal 3D printer in 2019?
Many professionals and industrials are adopting metal 3D printing technology to create metal 3D printed prototypes or customized parts on demand. Metal 3D printers are relatively expensive, mostly ranging from $80K to almost $1M. They are suitable for many industries such as aerospace, automobile, health, engineering, and more.
In some cases, however, investing in a heavy industrial 3D printer may not be cost-effective. Apart from the high cost of acquisition, there are also high maintenance and energy fees, in addition to the large footprint that most industrial additive manufacturing systems require. Another factor to take into account is the learning curve regarding 3D printing technology.
Overview of the best metal 3D printers in 2019
Metal powder bed fusion 3D printers: SLS, SLM, DMP, and more
At the moment, the most commonly used metal additive manufacturing technology is powder 3D printing. Simply put, the 3D printer creates objects out of a bed of powdered metal thanks to a powerful laser.
DMG Mori LASERTEC 30 SLM 2nd Gen.
The DMG Mori LASERTEC 30 SLM 2nd Gen. is a powder sintering AM solution from Germany. This industrial 3D printer boasts an automated powder management system and is compatible with third-party materials.
Renishaw RenAM 500M
Renishaw is a British engineering company. The RenAM 500M is one of their additive manufacturing systems which uses the SLM (Selective Laser Melting) 3D printing method.
TRUMPF TruPrint 1000 LMF
Founded in Germany in 1923 as a mechanical workshop, TRUMPF is now a leading machine tool manufacturer. Their TruPrint 1000 metal 3D printer features Laser Metal Fusion (LMF) technology.
Metal material jetting and binder jetting 3D printers
Material jetting 3D printers consist of various inkjet printheads (somewhat similar to 2D printing) that jet material onto a surface. The material then hardens, and another layer of “metal ink” is jetted on top. Binder jetting is almost the same process, but it is a binding agent that is jetted atop a layer of powder.
Digital Metal DM P2500
Digital Metal is part of the Swedish Höganäs Group. The DM P2500 offers users a very high-resolution of up to 0.035 mm and medical-grade finishes. This metal additive manufacturing system is suitable for production series and end-use part customization.
DED: Directed Energy Deposition metal additive manufacturing systems
Directed Energy Deposition (DED) is comparable to filament extrusion. The metal material is pushed through a special nozzle, like FFF/FDM, but a powerful laser beam solidifies the material at its deposition point.
BeAM Modulo 400
The BeAM Modulo 400 is a 5-axis metal deposition 3D printer that is suitable for small production series as well as for adding material to existing parts. BeAM is a French metal 3D printer manufacturer.
Metal extrusion 3D printers (FFF, FDM)
Extrusion consists of heating the material (filament) and pushing it through a nozzle. In the metal 3D printing case, the filament is generally made up of metal particles mixed with a binding agent. After the part is 3D printed, the result is a raw object or part; it must go through debinding and sintering post-processing to attain its final form.
Desktop Metal Studio
The Desktop Metal Studio is a metal extruder 3D printer. This Desktop Metal 3D printer comes with a debinder module as well as a furnace for post-processing raw metal parts. Desktop Metal calls their technology “Bound Metal Deposition”. The Studio Desktop Metal 3D printer (complete system) is available at the price of $120,000. Desktop Metal also manufactures the Desktop Metal Production, a high-volume metal 3D printer for production series with Single Pass Jetting technology.
The best metal 3D printers in 2019: special mentions
HP Metal Jet
HP is entering the metal 3D printing market with their Metal Jet technology. Their HP metal 3D printer has yet to be commercially available, but boasts a build volume of 430 x 320 x 200 mm and will cost less than $400K.
Metal 3D printing technologies
Many manufacturers develop their own variations of existing technologies and label them with different or modified names:
- Powder Bed Fusion (PBF): DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering), DMP (Direct Metal Printing), LaserCUSING, LBM (Laser Beam Melting), LMF (Laser Metal Fusion), SLS (Selective Laser Sintering), SLM (Selective Laser Melting)
- Directed Energy Deposition (DED): DMT (Direct Metal Tooling), EBAM (Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing), EBM (Electron Beam Melting), LENS (Laser Engineered Net Shaping), LMD (Laser Metal Deposition)
- Metal Material Jetting (MJ) or Binder Jetting (BJ): Magnet-o-Jet, Nanoparticle Jetting, SPJ (Single Pass Jetting), Metal Jet
- Metal filament extrusion/Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF): ADAM (Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing), CEM (Composite Extrusion Modeling), FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), FFD (Fused Feedstock Deposition), FMP (Filament Metal Printing), BMD (Bound Metal Deposition), MIM (Metal Injection Molding)
- Lamination: SL (Sheet Lamination), UAM (Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing)
- Metal resin 3D printing: DLP (Digital Light Processing), FluidFM, SLA (Stereolithography)