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How to 3D print metal with BASF Ultrafuse 316L Stainless

November 13, 2020

A constant question we get from our clients and folks like you calling in is "plastic is great but can I 3D print metal?"

Our answer used to be "you can't really do it unless you have around $100,000 to spare" but that's behind us. BASF's Ultrafuse 316L unlocks the ability of your 3D printer to 3D print metal at home or at your business.

What we'll go through:

  1. Metal Workflow
  2. 3D Printer specifications
  3. Printing parameters
  4. Shrinkage
  5. Design Guidelines
  6. Best practices

Metal Workflow

Here's an outline of the workflow you can expect to have when dealing with this metal filament. The green part is what you 3D print, and you will then send it out to DSH in the states to carry out the post processing of your part. They will debind and sinter your parts and provide a full report so you can learn and improve for your next run.

3D Printer specifications

Below you can review the basic requirements for your 3D printer, in today's market, most 3D printers meet or exceed these specs. Keep in mind that a hardened nozzle is a must, hardened feeder gears are recommended.


Printing Parameters

Next up are the printing parameters. If you have the Ultimaker S3 or S5, you can get the printing profile directly on the marketplace, otherwise follow these guidelines:

 Shrinkage

You'll need to scale your part to account for the shrinkage during debinding and sintering. That can be done in CAD, Meshmixer, or even your slicer.

Make sure you uncheck "Uniform Scaling" when doing this. You will need to scale your parts 120% in the X and Y direction and 126% in the Z direction.

Cura

PrusaSlicer

 

Design Guidelines

It's important to keep in mind the following design guidelines for your metal parts. Following these will increase the success of 3D printing, debinding and sintering all together. Having said that, we sometimes slightly deviate from these suggestions. Experiment but keep it within reason!


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 Best Practices

There are a few things you want to keep in mind when printing with Ultrafuse 316L.

  • Start small and make sure that your printing parameters are good. The cost of failure is bigger due to the cost of the filament
  • Avoid printing parts that require supports. If you must, use supports when the features exceed 45 degrees
  • Tune your first layer to perfection, too high and the print will not stick, and too low will make it harder to remove after or even clog your nozzle.
  • Clean up your part as much as you can after printing. You can remove stringing, and even use sand paper to smooth out the surface.
  • For critical features, you will be able to bring them to size once you get your parts through traditional machining methods (milling, turning, surfacing, grinding, tumbling, etc)

Next Steps

If you made it to the end, you are probably looking to get your hands on some of this Ultrafuse 316L filament. You can go on this page to get a spool in either Ø1.75mm or Ø2.85mm

If you have more questions, want to talk about your application or wanted to do this as a print service. Reach out to our team through phone, chat or email. We are always happy to help you!



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