Desktop Metal has qualified the use of 316L stainless steel for the Production System platform, which leverages patent-pending Single Pass JettingTM (SPJ) technology designed to achieve the fastest build speeds in the metal additive manufacturing market. Known for its corrosion resistance and excellent mechanical properties at extreme temperatures, 316L stainless steel is well suited for applications in the most demanding conditions, such as parts exposed to marine or pharmaceutical processing environments, food preparation equipment, medical devices, and surgical tooling. It also exhibits excellent weldability by standard fusion and resistance methods.
“The qualification of 316L stainless steel with leading mechanical properties on the Production System platform is part of our aggressive roadmap to support an array of materials for binder jetting and a testament to the advantages of SPJ technology, which enables mass production throughput without sacrificing part performance and repeatability,” said Jonah Myerberg, co-founder and CTO of Desktop Metal. “With 316L on the Production System P-50, businesses will now be able to leverage additive manufacturing to produce complex, end-use parts suitable for use in harsh environments at volumes and costs competitive with conventional manufacturing”.
Through extensive testing, the Desktop Metal materials science team has validated that 316L stainless steel printed on Production System technology and sintered by Desktop Metal meets MPIF 35 standards for structural powder metallurgy parts set by the Metal Powder Industries Federation. Parts printed with 316L have demonstrated excellent mechanical properties and corrosion resistance, while significantly decreasing production time and part cost.
Key applications of 316L stainless steel
Rocker arms are used to open and close intake and exhaust valves on an outboard marine engine. The use of 316L extends the part’s life and provides corrosion resistance against harsh saltwater environments. Manufacturing on the Production System P-50 enables the production of more than a thousand parts per day with ribbing features and cutouts to deliver adequate strength and stiffness while maintaining low weight and a small footprint versus the standard cast alternatives, which require up to 8 to 14 weeks lead time.
Heavy industry fluid connectors used in many chemical processing plants need to be manufactured in 316L for corrosion resistance against the chemicals moving through the part. The connector’s complex internal channels make it impossible to manufacture as a single component via conventional manufacturing methods. The Production System P-50 enables printing the fluid connector in 316L as a single, consolidated component and can support a throughput of nearly 5,500 parts per week, at a fully burdened cost of approximately $6.85 per part.
Because 316L is surgical-grade steel, it is an ideal material for medical applications like surgical nozzles. By eliminating tooling, additive manufacturing enables mass production runs of different-sized nozzles with no lead time, featuring internal channels that are optimized for individual patient needs.
Printing on the Production System P-50 eliminates multiple fixturing steps otherwise required for machining, and results in a throughput of more than 24,000 parts per week at approximately $2.50 per part. By comparison, machining the same part would cost $20.00 -$40.00 per part, and require up to two months to create the same number of parts the P-50 can produce in just one week.
High-touch parts like this gear knob require materials that are easy to sanitize. 316L is an optimal material choice because it offers excellent corrosion resistance and cleans easily. This textured gear shift is an example of mass
customization made possible by binder jetting on the Production System, which supports up to 200 parts per build and up to 6,700 parts per week. By comparison, casting would require 8 to 14 weeks lead time for tooling, just to begin volume production. “As innovators in the automotive, medical, consumer products, and petrochemical industries continue to embrace the benefits of additive manufacturing, implementing applications made possible with 316L stainless steel, we will begin to see even more widespread adoption of binder jetting technology,” said Myerberg. “Materials that push
the boundaries of what AM technology can do will continue to advance the industry and drive unparalleled throughput while significantly reducing cost and waste”.
3D print metal parts at-scale
Created by the inventors of binder jetting and single-pass inkjet technology, the Production System is an industrial manufacturing platform powered by Desktop Metal’s SPJ technology. It is designed to achieve speeds up to 100 times those of legacy powder bed fusion additive manufacturing technologies and enable production quantities of up to millions of parts per year at costs competitive with conventional mass production techniques.
The Production System platform consists of two printer models: the P-1, a solution for process development and serial production applications, and the P-50, a large form factor mass production solution for end-use parts, scheduled to begin commercial shipments in 2021. The platform combines Desktop Metal engineered binders with an open material platform, allowing customers to produce high-performance parts using the same low-cost metal powders used in the Metal Injection Molding (MIM) industry. An inert processing environment enables compatibility with a variety of materials, including the now qualified 316L stainless steel as well as high-performance alloys and even reactive metals, such as aluminum and titanium.