Desktop Metal launched 316L stainless steel for the Studio System, an office friendly metal 3D printing system for prototyping and low volume production. A fully austenitic steel known for its corrosion resistance and excellent mechanical properties at extreme temperatures, 316L is well-suited for applications in demanding industrial environments, including salt water in marine applications, caustic cleaners found in food processing environments, and chemicals in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

“The addition of 316L enables engineers to print metal parts for a range of applications, including engine parts, laboratory equipment, pulp and paper manufacturing, medical devices, chemical and petrochemical processing, kitchen appliances, jewelry and even cryogenic tools and equipment,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal. Early applications of 316L parts printed with the Studio System confirm the diverse and promising results across multiple industries:

Combustion fuel nozzle for marine tankers The UHT Atomizer, manufactured by John Zink Hamworthy Combustion, is a fuel oil atomiser for use with atomising medium such as steam or air. It is typically installed in an HXG marine burner, used on steam propulsion boilers on LNG tankers. The objective of the atomiser is to improve low load burner performance, thus allowing the burner to run on a lower fuel oil throughput, saving operational costs when the vessel is maneuvering in port. 316L stainless steel has been a key material for the part due to its excellent mechanical properties at high temperatures. Printed with the Studio System, the atomizer can be radically redesigned to function in a more fuel-efficient manner than those produced through traditional metalworking means.

“Unlike many of the parts that John Zink designs and manufactures, this UHT Atomizer can only be fabricated using additive manufacturing. Design constraints of casting, machining and other methods that have bound our thinking for decades can be eliminated as additive manufacturing technology continues to evolve and progress,” said Paul Newman, General Manager at John Zink Hamworthy Combustion, UK.

Custom ring splint for medical use Ring splints are typically made of injected molded plastic in standard sizes and parts often break after a relatively short lifetime. Due to traditional manufacturing methods, ring splints cannot be customized to improve fit. Now, by 3D printing in 316L, ring splints can be custom-printed, on-demand to the desired size, with the added benefit of an aesthetic finish and increased durability.

“Being able to 3D print medical grade steel parts like this finger splint, which is customized to the patient anatomy, offers many advantages as compared to previous fabrication methods that take longer and may have lower efficacy,” said Jim S. Wu, MD, Chief of Musculoskeletal Radiology and Intervention at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School.

Impeller for harsh environments Impellers require complex vanes to optimize pressures in the pump for different fluids and applications. With chemical impellers, 316L is the material for its chemical resistance and mechanical properties at extreme temperatures, such as those found in cryogenic, salt water, and petroleum pumps. The impellers are geometrically complex, with prototypes typically costing $1,000 or more. With the Studio System, this impeller was printed in 316L for $70.

316L joins 17-4 PH stainless steel in the Studio System’s materials library. With more than 30 materials in development, Desktop Metal plans to introduce additional core metals to its portfolio throughout 2019, including tool steels, superalloys, and copper.

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