FAQ Lithography-based Metal Manufacturing

While developing a new technology, we’ve received many questions from those interested in metal 3D printing. These questions tend to fall in similar patterns, so here are the most popular questions about Lithography-based Metal Manufacturing and Incus Hammer Lab 35.

  • ·         What software does the Hammer Lab 35 need?

The user-friendly HephaistOS data preparation software is provided by Incus as part of the machine package. Additional software features can be added according to your need and could include in-line monitoring, creation of a print report, or access to all printer parameters.  If more sophisticated data preparation is required, Incus is happy to recommend third party software solutions.

 

  • ·         How big of an object can the Hammer Lab 35 print?

In the Hammer Lab 35, parts can be placed inside the whole building volume of 89.6 x 56.0 x 120.0 mm (X/Y/Z) without supporting structures. Besides the physical space of the printing volume there are no other restrictions concerning the green part size. However, please consider design recommendations concerning the debinding and sintering of green parts, which are similar to those in Metal Injection Molding. We will post guidelines soon.

 

  • ·         Which materials can be printed? Can the Hammer Lab 35 print multiple materials at once?

The Hammer Lab 35 is an industrial 3D printing solution which can print 316L stainless steel, titanium 64, copper, brass, tungsten, hard metals, diamond and many more. So far only one material can be printed at a time. Please contact us if you are interested in development projects concerning multi-material printing.

 

  • ·         Does the Hammer Lab 35 print precious materials (silver, gold or platinum)?

Yes, there are no technical restrictions. If the powder works in MIM, it works in LMM: Sterling silver was successfully printed. Contact us if you are interested in a development for precious materials.

 

  • ·         How long does it take to print one full batch?

The printing time is about 10mm/h @ 25µm layer thickness, so the whole volume is used in 12h. The speed doubles when using 50µm as a layer thickness.

 

  • ·         What is the minimum wall thickness the Hammer Lab 35 can produce?

The minimum wall thickness always depends on the part geometry. Free standing ribs or fins could be printed down to 200µm wall thickness.

 

  • ·         What is the porosity of LMM parts?

The achievable densities and mechanical properties are similar to material processed by MIM. LMM printed and sintered 316L can reach a density of 98.2 – 99.0%, based on a theoretical density of 7.87 g/cm³.

 

  • ·         What is the resolution of the printer?

The standard resolution of the printer is 35 µm in X/Y, which corresponds to 730 dpi. Depending on your application, the optics can be adapted if higher resolution is needed.

 

  • ·         What level of detail can be obtained with LMM?

The possible level of detail for writings or ornaments is down to 1-3 Pixel (35µm - 100µm) depending on the part. 

 

  • ·         What level of accuracy can be obtained with LMM?

For cubes of 10mm we achieved an accuracy and repeatability of +-20 µm in the sintered state. Smaller parts yield an even higher accuracy.    

 

  • ·         What is the average surface roughness of the final part?

The roughness of the sintered part largely depends on the used powder. Typically, we achieve Ra values of less than 5 µm in every direction without any surface treatment. This is the best in class surface aesthetics you find in metal AM. 

 

  • ·         How much is your shrinkage coefficient? Can it deform some parts?

The shrinkage while sintering is approx. 16-20% in every direction. The shrinkage depends on the type of metal, the part geometry, the powder loading, and the sintering conditions. With LMM iteration loops can be done quickly to get the right shrinkage coefficient.  LMM follows the same design principles for sintering as Metal Injection Molding. To avoid deformation due to gravity the design of the part could be adapted or sintering support could be used.  

 

  • ·         After printing, do the printed parts remain UV sensitive? 

No, after the printing the mechanical strength of the green part is fully developed. They are not UV sensitive and no post-curing to enhance the strength is necessary. 

 

  • ·         Are LMM parts as strong as traditionally manufactured metal components?

Yes. The parts created with LMM technology show mechanical properties equivalent to a metal part made with Metal Injection Molding. Detailed information can be found on the Technology page.