Metal 3D printing refers to the selective laser melting and direct metal laser sintering. These processes use metal powders to produce complex and one-piece metal parts.
Are you interested in metal 3D printing? Looking for the best metal 3D printer that fits your budget, space and experience level?
You’re just on the right page. We have everything you need about this technology. Whether you’re a newbie or are already knowledgeable and are looking for your first metal 3D printer, we’re here to help.
By the end of this article, you should understand metal 3D printing, what it does and what’s the best machine for you because we include best metal 3d printer for sale!
- 1 What is Metal 3D Printing
- 2 3D Printer that Prints Metal
- 3 Metal 3D Printer Cost
- 4 Metal 3D Printing Service
- 5 Metal 3D Printing Materials
- 6 Conclusion
What is Metal 3D Printing
Metal 3D printing covers the basic principles of SLM (Selective Laser Melting) and DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering). Both processes use metals in granular form.
The only difference between the two comes down to the fundamentals of the particle bonding process.
SLM uses metal powders with a single melting temperature and fully melts the particle while
DMLS the powder is composed of materials with variable melting points that fuse on a molecular level at elevated temperatures.
Both SML and DMLS are used in industrial applications to create end-user engineering product. In some cases, they are collectively referred to as metal 3D printing.
Metal Additive Manufacturing is also known as metal 3D printing. This technology offers unrivaled design freedom with the ability to manufacture parts from a wide range of materials.
A number of components that were impossible to create a few years ago can be made to high standards using 3D printing metal powder.
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing allows you to create three-dimensional part layer by layer from a polymer or metal-based material.
Traditionally, metal and plastic objects can be a wasteful process. For instance, when aircraft manufacture metal parts, the majority of the material up to 90% is cut away.
Unfortunately, metal 3D printers are very expensive. But this offers a lot of benefits from the traditional metal manufacturing processes.
How Does Metal 3D Printing Work?
Metal Additive Manufacturing works in the following process.
The build chamber is filled with inert gas to minimize the oxidation of the metal powder. It is then heated to the optimal build temperature.
A thin layer of metal powder is spread over the build platform and a high power laser scans the cross-section of the component, melting (for fusing) the metal particles together and creating the next layer. The entire area of the model is scanned so the part is built fully solid.
When the scanning process is complete, the build platform moves downwards by one layer thickness and the recoater spreads another thin layer of metal powder. The process is repeated until the whole part is complete.
Following the removal of support structures to separate the parts from the building platform, you can mill, drill or polish. For instance, internal surfaces such as those in internal or tempering channels can be polished using abrasive flow machining.
Here are the other ways to improve the surface quality of your 3D printed metal.
Heat treatment. This is used to improve the mechanical and tactile properties of the surface.
Electropolishing. This electrochemical treatment significantly improves the surface finish of metal 3D printing. This is used to minimize microroughness and reduce the risk of dirt or product residues. This also improves the cleanability of the surfaces.
This is also used for deburring, brightening and passivating for surfaces exposed to abrasive media. This process doesn’t involve mechanical, thermal or chemical impact. This can also be used to treat small and mechanically fragile parts.
3D Printer that Prints Metal
There are a number of metal 3D printers in the market today and pretty sure, you have reached this part because you are looking for one. We won’t disappoint you because below you will find the top metal 3D printers that will surely suit your requirements in different categories.
Industrial 3D Printer Metal
Those in the 3D printing industry should rejoice because a new machine is here to boost your business. A 3D printer that uses metal is now available to help you print metal parts quickly and conveniently with lesser waste and at a reduced price.
Here’s our top pick industrial metal 3D printer for you.
HP is popular in the printing world, but they take their game in a higher level when they joined the market for metal 3D printing by producing a first-rate metal 3D printer in the form of HP Metal Jet.
What I love most about this metal 3D printer is its usability. This 3D printer is designed to propel your business with its most advanced metal 3D printing technology for mass production. It can produce high volumes of parts and large parts at a lower cost.
It can also accelerate product development cycles with multiple iterations in just days. It produces parts faster, in fewer steps with no debinding required and eliminates tooling.
It’s huge, so you need to have enough space to store it.
This 3D metal printer delivers extreme performance, high quality and consistent reliability which is just worth it considering its hefty price.
Personally, I find this 3D printer expensive. This is priced at $399,000. So, basically this is not for home use but it’s great if you are in the industry and is planning to use this for business.
Considering the things that this can do and the quality that it was built, you will not regret choosing this. I highly recommend this especially for those in the 3D printing business.
- Bed Size: 430 x 320 x 200 mm
- Price: $399,000
- Layer Height: 50 – 100 microns
- Resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi
- Industry: Best for Aerospace, Automotive, Consumer products and medical
- Materials: Stainless Steels(17-4 PH and 316L)
- Product dimension: 2178 x 1238 x 1448 mm
EOS 100 was designed for entry-level industrial metal 3D printing without you breaking the bank. This is only among the few metal 3D printers that you can purchase below $250,000.
This commercial metal 3d printer is another affordable machine. This is manufactured by a company based in Frankfurt, Germany. This machine was introduced in 2015. This works using the Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).
I’m impressed with its built and size. EOS M 100 has a small build size with a maximum of 100 × 100 × 95 mm only. However, it can build items with complex geometries out of several different metals including EOS CobaltChrome SP2, EOS StainlessSteel 316L, EOS Titanium Ti64.
Despite its small build volume, its performance is impressive. It can produce approximately 70 dental crown and bridges in three hours. Yes, EOS M 100 is that fast. This is designed to be cost-efficient for small quantities production.
The system also works smartly with its build space, efficient recoating and exposure strategy that reduce the non-productive periods and contributes to the efficient production of smaller quantities, instead.
As for its design, it has a modular interior structure. Yo can quickly dismantle or set it up. The materials can also be replaced easily and maintenance is a breeze. You can perform it quickly.
For your safety, this is designed with a closed frame. However, it may take time until you’ll get comfortable using this. This doesn’t include automatic calibration, heated print bed, or an LCD screen. But it has 3D scanners and touchscreen for easier operation.
As for connectivity, this is only limited to Ethernet. Most machines allow you to print using UBS, SD card, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. When it comes to this matter, EOS M 100 is a bit behind.
Despite the things it lacks, I still love this metal 3D printer, from its size, price, performance and quality of output. I am also satisfied with its price.
- Max Build Size: 100 × 100 × 95 mm
- Focus diameter: 40 μm
- Price: $ 100,000 – $ 250,000
- Technology: Powder (SLS, SLM…)
- Dimension: 800 × 950 × 2250 mm
- Weight: 580 kg
Desktop Metal 3D Printer
If you need a 3D metal printing machine that fits your workspace then desktop metal 3D printer is for you. There a a number of you these and we are about to give you the top metal 3d printers in this category.
Markforged experienced an unparalleled success after releasing its first marquee product, Markforged Mark One. The brand went on and venture in producing metal 3D printers in the form of Metal X.
The first thing I noticed in this brand is that it’s a lot cheaper than HP Jet Metal by about $300,000. So, if your budget is short and you can’t afford HP’s metal 3D printer then this is a more affordable option.
Although this is cheaper, you should not underestimate Markforged Metal X in terms of performance. This is equipped with a new innovative process to create parts made with the machine using its own technology Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM).
ADAM involves the process of using a bound metal powder rod embedded inside a plastic filament. Similar to other 3D printing processes, the part is built up layer by layer except with compensations made for shrinkage.
I’m personally impressed with ADAM technology because it allows for closed-cell structures. Prior to this, you need an escape hole for the unused powder but with Metal X, the powder just burns away. Thanks to this, you can create complex enclosed internal structures to create light parts without sacrificing its strength.
What I love about this is that it can process various metal powders including Stainless Steel 17-4 and 303, Aluminum (Beta) 6061 and 7075, Tool Steel (Beta) A-2 and D-2, IN Alloy (Inconel) 625 (Beta), and Titanium Ti-6Al-4V (Beta). It is also equipped with a versatile proprietary cloud-based software called Eiger.
Perhaps, if there’s something that this 3D printer lacks it is poor connectivity. It has no USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, SD card or ethernet.
Despite this, Markforged Metal X remains a good start if you are into metal 3D printing.
- Build Volume: 300 x 220 x 180 mm
- Max Part Weight: 10kg
- Resolution: 50 micron – 200 micron
- Connectivity: Ethernet or Wi-Fi
- Print Engine: Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM)
- Print Bed: Heated, Vacuum Sealed Print Sheet, Auto Bed Leveling
- Print Preparation: Eiger Software
- File type: STL
- Weight: 75kg
Desktop Metal Studio 3D printer is the first office-friendly metal 3D printing solution. This will be a great addition to your devices in the office especially if you want to join metal 3D printing.
This metal 3D printing machine operates differently than the laser-based system that selectively melts metal powder. Instead, this extrudes bound metal rods similar to how FDM printer works which eliminates the safety requirements often associated with metal 3D printing.
Don’t worry about any risks because this is designed to be safe in the first place. It comes with a closed-cell infill for lightweight strength. Thanks to this, you can move this conveniently when needed.
One of the best things about this machine is its price. This is much cheaper than most metal 3D printers on the market. At $120,000 Desktop Metal Studio System offers metal additive manufacturing (AM) at a fracture of the size and cost of typical industrial metal 3D printers. If you will only get the metal 3D printer, then it will only cost you $60,000.
This machine uses Desktop Metal’s patented Bound Metal Deposition (BMD) method which is similar to Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technology. BMD takes rods made of powdered metals bound in a polymer binder then extrudes it layer by layer. To prevent metal supports from bonding to metal parts, MBD employs a second extruder to deposit ceramic interface media between the two.
The good thing is that getting it doesn’t cost as much as the expensive metal 3D printers. The three machines can also fit neatly alongside each other. However, you would need a bigger space for this.
Overall, I’m still pleased with Desktop Metal Studio 3D Printer. I love its size, the quality of prints and of course, the price. And I tell you even if you purchase the entire Studio system, it won’t cost you as much as HP Metal Jet, so yes it is affordable.
- Build envelope: 30 x 20 x 20 cm (12 x 8 x 8 in)
- Max build rate: 16 cm³/hr (1 in³/hr)
- Print Engine: Bound Metal Deposition (BMD)
- Build Volume: 289 x 189 x 195 mm
- Printer Size: 948 x 823 x 529 mm
- Print System: Dual extrusion
- Resolution: 50 microns, 100-220 microns
- Connectivity: Ethernet or Wi-Fi
- Materials: 17-4 PH, AISI 4140, H13, 316 L, Copper, Inconel 625
Cheapest Metal 3D Printer
It’s difficult to find an affordable metal 3D printer, as this type of machine tends to be so costly. But, don’t be in despair because there are always brands who consider their buyers and would love many to afford their products.
I’m pleased to share with you one of the low cost metal 3D printers in the market — Airwolf 3D Evo Additive!
Airwolf 3D EVO Additive Manufacturing Center is designed to be a professional desktop metal 3D printer. But aside from the size, it’s one of the few cheap 3D printers you will ever find in the market, so we put this machine in this category.
Airwolf is more affordable than its competitors. In fact, it’s way cheaper as this costs less than $10, 000. You can hardly find a metal 3D printer at this price. But mind you, you should not underestimate this because it is not inferior. Its capabilities are not limited. In fact, it’s as competitive as the other more expensive brands.
This metal 3D printer is fast, strong and accurate than most desktop metal 3D printers. In addition, it is safe to use because it is equipped with a closed frame and heated interior with air cleansing system to reduce UFP/VOC emissions.
This low-cost metal 3D printer has what it takes to help you build metal parts. It has a 7-inch touchscreen for more intuitive user experience and dual extrusion for faster operation. Thanks to this, you can print two materials simultaneously.
This metal 3D printer is also versatile for its price. It can process PLA, ABS, other plastics and of course, metal!
For those desperate to try metal 3D printing but has a limited budget, I highly recommend this because it’s cheaper and it works!
- Build size: 305 × 305 × 280 mm
- Build volume: 26.05 L
- Max print speed: 250 mm/s
- Dimension: 1016 × 762 × 737 mm
- Connectivity: USB
- Technology: Extrusion (FFF, FDM)
- Price: $7,995
Metal 3D Printer Cost
How much does a metal 3d printer cost? 3D metal printer price varies. There are cheap and there are expensive ones depending on the features it offers.
In most cases, this depends on what the machine offers. More advanced metal 3D printers tend to cost more. Also, industrial types are more costly than desktop metal 3D printers.
An industrial 3d metal printing machine cost over $100,000. Meanwhile, desktop 3D metal printing machine price tends to be cheaper. You can buy one below $100,000.
Based on the 3d metal printer price list, the cheapest one here is Metal X.
In general, metal 3D printers come in different packages. So, if you are planning to buy metal 3d printer, you will definitely one that suits your requirements and budget.
Metal 3D Printing Service
If you find 3d printing metal price to be too costly but still wish to print 3D metals from time to time, don’t worry, there are 3d metal printing companies that offer metal 3D printing services. You can send them your project and just pay them to get it done.
Here are some businesses that offer metal printing services.
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
You can conveniently send them your project online. They offer a quote so you will know how much you will pay ahead.
The company made ordering simple with its pick delivery-based pricing, pay with its simplified online options and access its HELP ME CHOOSE feature for automated suggestions for the right materials and technologies for your application.
You can opt for a Quick Print that offers the fastest delivery or lowest price or Stay Classic with post-processing and quality control.
This is another 3D printing marketplace and service company that offers industrial 3D printing service scaled to fit your business. They actually process project using different materials from strong plastics to polished metals.
The company has produced over a million products yearly from manufacturing to finished goods. You can also save money because they offer competitive pricing and have no minimums.
If you are interested, you can get in touch with their sales team to get a quote for your project. Just fill up a form and they will get back to you as soon as they can.
This site has a large network of manufacturing Hubs. The service is connected to over 140 countries. It has a wide range of 3D printing metals with applications in multiple industries. The parts are manufactured using the SLM/DMLS or Binder Jetting printing processes.
You can request for a metal 3D printing service in the site in three easy steps. First, upload your designs. Second, specify your requirements (turnaround times, prices, materials, etc.). Third, receive the quality parts.
Metal 3D Printing Materials
Metal 3D printing is used to produce complex and one-piece metal parts with geometries that are impossible to machine. This technology is an ideal technical solution for complex metal parts.
While most 3D printers use filaments, metal 3D printers use different materials – 3d printing metal powder!
Here’s a full range of 3D printer metal powder for sale for metal additive manufacturing that combines both DMLS and EBM (electro beam) technologies.
Iconel. It has mechanical characteristics that enable the production of parts for aeronautics. This material has impressive mechanical and cryogenic properties. This is also great for high-temperature applications, instrumentation parts, process industry parts and more.
- Very good mechanical properties
- Excellent cryogenic properties
- Great for high-temperature and cryogenic applications
- Possible post-treatment
Steel (316L or 1.4404). There are several types of stainless steel including type PH1 or 316L or maraging steel type MS1. You can create your functional prototypes for aeronautical and medical sectors. On the other hand, maraging steel is tooling steel that can reach 55 HRC after heat treatment.
- Excellent strength
- High ductility
- Good thermal properties
- Highly corrosion-resistant
Titanium (TiAl6V4). This features excellent mechanical properties that make it a sought-after material in the aeronautical industry. This is compatible and well-adapted in the medical sector especially for implants
- Excellent mechanical properties with a low specific weight
Chrome/Cobalt. This offers numerous advantage and is particularly adapted to functional prototypes. You can use this metal 3D printing material to produce small series, personalized products or even spare parts using this technical material. The CRC2 grade is also used to create dental prostheses. It is also popular in aerospace and motorsports.
- Excellent strength
- Outstanding corrosion
- Wear and temperature resistance
Aluminum (AlSi10Mg). This material is an excellent alternative to casting. This is used to create parts with fine walls and complex geometry. This material offers good strength and hardness due to the combination of silica and magnesium.
- Good strength and thermal properties with low weight
- Flexible post-processing possibilities
Metal 3D printers are an asset to every business. It can help speed up the process and make you more productive. It’s not just for everyone because they are more expensive compared to regular 3D printers.
However, don’t be in despair as there are also cheap metal 3D printers on the market. Those machines aren’t as advanced as the expensive ones but it has the basic things that you need to produce metal parts.
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