About SLS printing of functional plastics /polymers

Discover 3Dresyns specifically designed narrow particle size plastic / polymer powders for SLS printing of high accuracy and resolution high performance plastic / polymer printed parts: High Performance Powders for Selective Laser Sintering SLS printing of high quality functional polymers

About Cold Metal Fusion CMF

Additive manufacturing of 3D printed metals requires the use of expensive high laser power "Selective Laser Sintering" SLS powder printers for direct sintering metal powders during the SLS printing process to produce direct SLS printing of metal parts.

Discover 3Dresyns Powder Binders for SLS Cold Metal, Ceramic & Exotic Powders Fusion

Cold Metal Fusion technology (CMF) 3D printing is a low cost alternative to direct SLS printing of pure metal powders, since use metal particles combined with polymer plastic binders, enabling the use of low-cost low-power plastic / polymer SLS printers to create final metal parts by firstly laser sintering the polymer plastic powder binder in the printer to create "green" SLS 3D printed parts, followed by chemical and thermal debinding of the polymer plastic binder and sintering of the metal particles to produce finally sintered pure metal parts.

CMF technology is considered a “cold” method because during printing the polymer plastic binder is sintered at low printing temperature (around 50°C) with low-power lasers used in affordable polymer /plastic SLS printers.

During SLS printing a laser selectively sinters the powder particles deposited layer by layer on the printing plate, to create 3D printed parts. With SLS printing printing supports are not needed since the powder itself serves as the support. Additionally, the same powder can be used for stacking, permitting the superposition of prints. Another advantage is that the unsintered powder can be reused in next prints.

Cold Metal Fusion Process

The design of the prints requires taking into account the shrinkage of prints after sintering, which varies from 10 to 20 % (lower or higher) depending of several variables, such as the ratio of metal and polymer plastic powder used, their shape, etc.   

The only existing CMF powder supplier “Headmade materials” already supplies some metal powders for Cold SLS printing, such as 316L stainless steel, cobalt-chromium, Ti6Al4V titanium, tungsten, Inconel, and some more, but it is not promoting any universal polymer plastic powder binders for allowing third parties to use their own metal powders. Due to this reason 3Dresyns has designed metal free powder binders for CMF to promote the usage of any chosen metal by third parties. 

Advantages and Benefits of Cold Metal Fusion

The key advantages and benefits of CMF are:

  • 3D printed metals can be made at low cost with even low-cost low power plastic /polymer SLS 3D printers, without the need of using expensive high-power metal SLS printers
  • ideal and more cost-effective versus Metal injection Molding MIM or die casting for mass production of parts
  • easier fine tuning of CMF materials than alternative technologies, such as SLA & DLP or metal jetting for printing of metals with photopolymer metal 3D resins

The Present and Future of CMF

CMF technology allows its use and implementation for manufacturing not only metallic parts, but also ceramics, sinterable functional high performance polymers, and exotic materials by using a wide range of shapes and morphologies, from particles to fibers, from nanometric to micrometric sizes to enable manufacturing an unlimited number of materials with different levels of resolution and dimensional accuracy.

Although the Headmade Materials initiative is very interesting and valuable, the offer of its ready-to-print metallic products does not make experimentation and development of new materials possible, as it does not market any metal-free polymer plastic powder binders. This business decision limits third-party experimentation and development of new materials.

The use of the fundamentals of CMF technology can be extrapolated to an unlimited number of materials, such as "Cold" SLS printing of ceramics (Cold Ceramic Fusion CCF), polymers such as PTFE and PEEK (Cold Polymer Fusion CPF), and an unlimited number of solid exotic powder materials, from particles to fibres of different shapes and sizes.

The commercialization of open mode low-cost low-power SLS printers, with prices rnaging from 3000 to 6000 Euros, together with the implementation of Cold Fusion Technologies allow the cost-effective printing and manufacturing of an unlimited number of functional SLS materials, from metals, ceramics, and high performance polymers to the manufacture exotic powder materials.

3Dresyns Plastic / Polymer Powder Binders for SLS Cold Metal, Ceramic & Polymer Fusion

3Dresyns Powder Binders are supplied free of Ceramic, Metal, Polymer, or exotic powders or fibers for allowing its customers to add their chosen sinterable materials for their printing by Cold Metal Fusion (CMF) , Cold Ceramic Fusion (CCF), Cold Polymer Fusion (CPF), and Cold Exotic Powder Materials Fusion.

Cold Polymer Fusion (CPF) allows the "Cold" SLS printing of functional polymers with high sintering temperature such as polyimide, which needs sintering temperatures of 350-380ºC, which are not easily obtained with low-cost low-power SLS printers.  

Features and Main Benefits:

  • flexible and versatile, since allow experimentation of new sinterable solid materials, from Ceramic, Metal, Polymer, and exotic powders or fibers printable by Cold Metal Fusion (CMF), Cold Ceramic Fusion (CCF), Cold Polymer Fusion (CPF), of PTFE and PEEK, and Cold Exotic Powder Materials Fusion
  • universal since our water or solvent soluble debindable Powder Binders can be used with any ceramic, metal, polymer, or exotic powders or fibers
  • eco friendly, since our powders are bio-based with 100% Bio content or 100% biocompatible for eco friendly SLS printing, debinding and sintering
  • affordable, our affordable powder binders are printable with even low-cost low-power plastic / polymer powder SLS printers
  • easy handling, physical dry powder mixing and wetting with ceramics, metals, polymers and exotic powders with low cost dry powder mixing equipment
  • stable, excellent adhesion, uniformity and stability (without gravitational separation) after mixing with micron and submicron ceramics, metals, polymers, such as polyimide, and exotic powders  (including nanowires, microfibers, etc)
  • high sintering densities and volume concentrations, ceramic, metal, polymer, and exotic powder (including nanowires, microfibers, etc) additions can be up to 60% volume concentrations (lower for nanoparticles, nano wires and microfibers)
  • fast and safe eco debinding, soluble in water or in Debinding Solution EDS1 Bio at 90ºC for fast "cold" water or eco solvent debinding and sintering without imperfections nor cracking
  • reproducible, promote controlled and reproducible process shrinkage which depends on final added % powder ratio
  • perfect debinding, minimum expansion coefficient to prevent micro-fractures 
  • ultra fine, maximum particle size <50 microns for high resolution printing
  • very high resolution, up to 50 microns of final products (depending on the particle size of the chosen ceramic, metal, polymer, or exotic powder or fiber)

Powder mixing Instructions.

Recommended mixing of 3D-POWDERS CF SD or WD Bio with ceramics, metals, polymers (such as PTFE and PEEK), and exotic powders (including nanowires, microfibers, etc):

Mix the following powders in a powder mixer (or similar) at room temperature to ensure full wetting and mixing:

  • 20 % by weight of 3D-POWDERS CF SD or WD Bio*
  • 10% by weight of your chosen SLS powder* (typically Nylon 12 powder since it is the most used polymer powder in most plastic/polymer SLS printers) 
  • 70% by weight of your chosen ceramic, metal, polymer, or exotic powder or fiber*,

    *Note: the % can be increased or decreased depending on the specifications of the printing settings and the chosen ceramic, metal, or exotic powder or fiber. After ordering 3Dresyns can supply upon request the Instructions for calculating the optimum % ratio by weight. Once 3D-POWDERS CF SD or WD Bio and your chosen SLS powder (typically Nylon 12) are fully integrated with your chosen ceramic, metal, polymer (such as polyimide), or any exotic powder or fiber, the powder mix is ready for SLS printing.

    Postprocessing of CMF prints

    After SLS printing, “green” parts need to be cleaned with pressurized air or a water jet by removing the unsintered powder. Once the green parts are fully cleaned, they need to be immersed in a solvent to remove part of the sintered plastic from the metal green parts (debinding process). After debinding, parts, which are referenced as “brown” parts, are heated gradually in an oven to remove the binder completely and to sinter the metal particles at high temperature to obtain sintered pure metal parts.

    Recommended plastic or polymer powder SLS printers: SLS printer compatibility, any open mode plastic/ polymer powder SLS printer can be used

    3Dresyns can combine different Powder Binders for SLS Cold Metal, Ceramic & Exotic Powders Fusion to your chosen ceramics, metals, polymers (such as polyimide), and exotic powders (including nanowires, microfibers, etc) to meet your specifications. Contact us for quotations at: info@3Dresyns.com