Crack-Free 3D Printing of Steel, Copper and More Made Possible with TRUMPF’s TruPrint 5000

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At formnext, which took place in Frankfurt, Germany last week, several 3D printers were unveiled or premiered. One of the printers seeing its world premiere was TRUMPF’s TruPrint 5000, designed to 3D print numerous metals including high-carbon steel and titanium alloys without cracking or warping. The 3D printer is pre-heated to 500°C to accommodate the challenging metals.

“Tool and mold makers can now easily print forming tools, punches and dies. Previously, without preheating, that wasn’t possible,” said Tobias Baur, TRUMPF General Manager Additive Manufacturing with responsibility for technology.

The TruPrint 5000 also features a new green laser with a pulse function, which allows for the 3D printing of pure copper and precious metals.

“This makes it attractive for use in mechanical and plant engineering, as pure copper can be used to print particularly conductive inductors and heat exchangers,” continued Baur.

The 3D printer should also hold some appeal for the jewelry industry, as the green laser enables the 3D printing of individual unique gold pieces on demand. It doesn’t waste expensive gold or silver, making it more economical than milling or casting, which involves a loss of material.

Certain tool steels favored by tool and mold makers could not previously be 3D printed because they would crack during the printing process.

“The laser beam melts the component surface, which subsequently cools back down to room temperature,” explained Baur. “The components weren’t able to withstand this temperature drop, and cracks formed.”

The preheating function of the TruPrint 5000, however, lessens the temperature drop following laser melting.

“The material quality and surface of carbon steels are significantly better than without preheating, preventing fractures in the components,” said Baur.

In addition to tooling, the TruPrint 5000 is also well-suited for the 3D printing of prosthetic devices and implants.

“When the ambient temperature drops too sharply, the parts warp and we have to rework them,” said Baur. “In addition, we often require support structures that are difficult to set up and take down.”

Because the preheating function of the TruPrint 5000 reduces stresses, it not only improves processing quality but also frequently eliminates the need for support structures at all. In addition, it often reduces the need for downstream heat treatment, as well as making the titanium more resilient and the implants more durable.

To achieve the 3D printing of copper and precious metals using the green laser, the TruPrint 5000’s developers connected the new TruDisk 1020 disk laser with the TruPrint 1000 3D printer.

“Conventional systems use an infrared laser as the beam source, but its wavelength is too long and it can’t weld highly reflective materials such as copper and gold. This can be done with laser light in the green wavelength spectrum,” said Thomas Fehn, TRUMPF General Manager Additive Manufacturing with responsibility for sales.

Fehn predicts that this will open up new applications for 3D printing, such as in the electronics and automotive industries.

You can learn more about the TRUMPF TruPrint 5000 or request a quote here.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source/Images: TRUMPF]

 

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