Transform FDM 3D Printers to Metal Printers with the Use of a Filament
Purchasing 3D printers become common to different industries for them to create prototypes and geometrical parts that can only be produced by 3D printers. 3D printers can be purchased for thousands to millions of dollars. Despite the fact that people are continuously searching for 3D printers that they can have at an affordable cost, it seems that you can hardly see changes when it comes to its price.
On the other hand, you can already consider an alternative presented by material science wherein you can use PLA filament infused in metal for FDM 3D desktop printers. Advanced materials were offered by ColorFabb that is made up of 40 to 50 percent metal powders combined with PLA. This will allow the printer to produce a polish and shine final prints with a metallic finish. Unfortunately, there are still parts that are not as durable as real metal parts. Metal filaments are commonly used in industrial applications because of its durability and flexibility the same with carbon fiber filaments and industrial plastics.
Filament Used by Virtual Foundry for 3D Printing
The Virtual Foundry, a startup that is based in Wisconsin launched their product last year on Kickstarter. This product was designed in transforming a typical desktop 3D printer to produce metal parts through the process of FDM technology which is use in printing thermoplastics. Their campaign was funded quickly and had even exceeded their minimum funding of $5,000. After several months, the campaign’s original backers get rewards and the filament is now offered for retail purchase by Virtual Foundry by visiting their website.
Bradley Woods the founder of Virtual Foundry said that their company will be producing metal prints with the use of a desktop 3D printer. Instead of offering high-end 3D printers, they provide people an affordable way on how they can create their own 3D printer and produce 3D printed materials by using Filamet.
Filamet looks exactly the same with other PLA materials available in the market that are metal-infused. Yet, you will notice that the metal powder of Filamet is higher making it heavier compared to other materials. This makes the printed part appears like full-metal. What you have to do is give the final printed parts a great polish for it to have a metallic finish. Knowing that Filamet is more of metal powder than plastic, it will need less post processing in order to achieve a metallic finish. Aside from that, the printed parts should also undergo a process where the PLA binding materials should be burned off and the metal parts will remain.
By using a kiln, you have to bake off the metal parts to remove the plastic carefully that will allow the metal powders to stick together and harden. You can 3D print the Filamet materials using any kind of desktop 3D printed and can also be used in creating 3D printed pens. Virtual Foundry is now offering their materials and is planning to produce new metal powders. They are also working with the Department of Energy in the United States to 3D print materials by making use of Uranium powder.