The process used is powdered Titanium laid out as a substrate, and sintered by a laser. The reported accuracy and detail are pretty awesome, and are among the better in the industry. If you wanted finer detail with strength, this may be your opportunity.
The printer lays out the powder according to the design, and sintering it with the laser. This process continues building and sintering until the entire part is completed. Support structures often required to keep the parts from warping due to the intense heat, and are added by their engineers. Once the process is complete, the support structures are manually cut away. Then the final cleanup and support evidence removal is completed. Fine polishing can be requested, but is not part of the base cost.
i.Materialise is quick to point out that there are limitations, and you have to play by the process’ rules, so to speak. First issue is the base angle. Face angles measuring less than 35° from the ground will likely have a poor surface quality, and overlapping structures will suffer the same fate. Face angles measuring greater than 35° are better suited to produce a smoother surface finish. Depending on the size and shape of the model, additional supports may have to be added, adding to the price and the possibility of minor surface quality problems where many supports are required on find detail work. Additional limitations are:
- The Maximum build dimensions are: 27cm x 25cm x 43 cm.
- Accuracy: 50± μm.
- Minimum wall thickness is 0.2mm.
- Typical surface roughness is 5 μm Ra – 40 μm Rz.
- The relative density is 100% and the absolute density is 4.41 g/cc.
- Ultimate tensile strength is 1024 MPa.
- Young’s module is 111 GPa.
- Hardness as measured on micro Vickers is 370 HV.
- The melting point of the material is 1660 Celsius.
You can upload your models here at i.Materialise.com. The costs are automatically calculated for you. The Titanium printing is simply integrated into their existing business front end. Numerous formats can be uploaded, including:
*.3ds, *.stl, *.igs, *.model, *.mxp, *.obj, *.wrl, *.zip, *.rar, *.3dm, *.skp
I uploaded a part that was apparently 10cm x 10cm x 14 cm, and the automatic system told me the Titanium option for my size was not automatically quotable, but I would receive the price via email. The next email came requesting confirmation of the email address, which I promptly returned. That was 2 hours prior to the release of this article. When they respond, I’ll update the article.
I did upload the same part and requested Alumide, a Polyamide and Aluminum composite. The online interface updated automatically, and dynamically updates as you change options. More on that in another article. It’s a pretty cool site.
Two articles were furnished by i.Materialise regarding this process and can be found here: