Substrate release mechanisms lower cost of metal 3D printing

New substrate release mechanisms that offer less expensive alternatives to aluminum parts removal during gas metal arc weld 3D printing.

A team from Michigan Technological University (Houghton, MI), led by Paul Sanders and Joshua Pearce, tested several surface treatment methods for releasing 3D-printed aluminum parts from the reusable substrate on which they are deposited.

The team compared the printing and parts removal technologies based on cost and need for additional coating steps, warping of the substrate, interlayer adhesion strength, and ease of use. The experiments were performed on Michigan Tech's open-source metal 3D printer.

"We found that careful selection of substrates and coatings could result in the complete elimination of expensive tooling for the release of 3D printed aluminum components," said Pearce. As well as cutting the cost of aluminum 3D printing, the recycling of the substrates enhances the ecological footprint.

"Metal printing has been one of the key drivers to industrial adoption of additive manufacturing, and aluminum part production has been particularly challenging.

The mechanisms are described in "Substrate Release Mechanisms for Gas Metal Arc Weld 3D Aluminum Metal Printing", published in 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.