The sinter-based AM (SBAM) technologies have, as the name suggests, the sintering process in common. In this process, the printed green part is consolidated into a dense part and receives its final properties. The green part can be printed in advance using different technologies.They all have in common that metal powder is bound to the desired shape by a binder. The best-known printing technologies include Binder Jetting and Filament Material Extrusion.
In this section, you learn everything about the sinter-based AM process chain and get an overview of the different printing technologies.
This course is aimed at engineers, designers and other professionals that are working closely with sinter-based AM technologies. The goal is to cover the most important aspects that will enable engineers and designers to fully grasp the capabilities and technical limitations of the printing technologies and the sintering process to succeed in technology selection and part design. Besides going through the course from the beginning until the end, this course can also act as a constant source of knowledge while working on AM projects.
The course is structured into the following sections.
This section will start with an overview of the sinter-based AM process chain and its printing technologies, followed by a technology deep dive into the most important aspects of the BJT technology, followed by a closer look at the debinding and sintering step also including sintering simulation .
The second section will provide an overview of the different materials that are available as well as part characteristics that can be achieved with the BJT process and typical methods for quality assurance. Finally, several common defects in the BJT process are presented.
The last section will act as a guideline for designers. Besides generally describing the process when designing for Additive Manufacturing, actionable restrictions and guidelines for the BJT process are provided. The final section will present several design examples from different industries.
Simulation to compensate the deformation during the sintering step, nesting of parts and definition of printing parameters
Through various printing processes, different feedstocks such as metal powders, filaments, pellets or dispersions are processed into green parts
Unpacking of fragile green parts needs to be done carefully and is typically a manual process.
Debinding describes the process of removing the binder which results in a brown part
To reach the structural integrity of a metal part, a sinter process is required. The powder particles fuse together to a coherent, solid structure via a mass transport that occurs at the atomic scale driven via diffusional forces.
The brown part shrinks ~13-21 % in each direction.
The process chain of sinter-based technologies differs from other AM Technologies. Especially the post-printing processes (debinding and sintering) are crucial to achieve the intended mechanical properties.
Afterwards the build platform moves downward by the amount of one layer thickness and a new layer of powder is applied. Again, the liquid binder is deposited and hardened in the required regions of the next layer to form the green body. This process is repeated until the complete part is printed. After the complete printing process is finished the parts have to be removed from the “powder cake” meaning the surrounding loose but densified powder. To improve the removal of the excess powder from the green body often brushes or a blasting gun with air pressure are used.
To create a dense metal part the 3D printed green body has to be post-processed in a debinding and sintering process. Similar to the metal injection molding process BJT parts are placed in a high temperature furnace, where the binder is burnt out and the remaining metal particles are sintered together. The sintering results in densification of the 3D printed green body to a metal part with high densities of 97 % to 99,5%, dependent of the material.
In classic Binder Jetting systems such as the ones distributed by EXONE or DIGITAL METAL the liquid binding agent is selectively deposited with a single print head. Meaning the width of the print head does not cover the full width of the powder bed. Therefore, the print head moves multiple times in xy-direction over the powder bed to completely cover the printing area and distributing the polymer binder.