Metal Laser Sintering Hybrid Milling
This metal laser sintering hybrid milling process combines metal powder 3D laser sintering with high speed milling finishing into one machining system. This process is similar to 3D printing, but using any one of several different grades of powdered metal with laser sintering to create a 3D part in metal. The system lays down a thin layer of powder, laser sinters that level in accordance to a 3D solid model, repeats that process for ten layers and then switches to a high speed mill and finish machines the ten layer stack which equals .020" thickness. It then continues the process until the complete part is finished. The laser sintering process can be controlled to create solid as well as porous sections throughout the process so the porous areas can then be used as venting areas in injection molds or medical/dental implant type parts.
When it comes to the manufacture of jigs, fixtures and assembly tools, time-to-market for new products can be reduced, overall costs can be saved and the quality of the resulting components/production can increase with the use of additive fabrication—laser sintering and fused deposition modeling.
I saw my first 3D-printed hot runner manifold at K 2019 in Germany, but the system did not have a name yet. Fast forward to 2020 and it not only has a name, but it’s been successfully implemented in a number of applications across Europe. And today, it’s ready for the North American marketplace.
Indirect tooling methods use the RP process to generate a pattern from which tooling inserts are made. This article describes two such indirect tooling processes - cast resin and sprayed metal tooling.