By: Buffalo Manufacturing Works Team | October 27th, 2020

Binder jetting offers unique material options compared to
high-energy deposition alternatives. Coupled with low running costs, binder
jetting can provide an effective method to produce finished parts at nearly
production-ready speeds. This additive manufacturing (AM) method is being
considered for applications in high-volume industries such as automotive where it
is cost-competitive to casting.

Binder jetting utilizes a liquid binding agent applied to
layers of powdered material to quicky build complex geometries and parts. In
contrast to high-energy powder bed fusion (PBF) systems, material consolidation
in binder jetting does not occur in the printer itself. Separating heat treatment from printing enables more uniform
heat application, reduces part distortion and warping, and frees up printer
time to make more parts. Once the initial print is complete, the entire
container is cured which makes the parts strong enough to be gently removed
from the powder. These “green” parts do not possess final part strength and are
still fragile.

The final processing step generally includes heat treatment
in a vacuum furnace to burn off the rest of the binder, followed by either a sintering
or infiltration process. A large industrial vacuum furnace can process
significantly more parts and reduces the bottlenecks common in high-energy PBF.
Often, manufacturing
facilities already have these furnaces in place for other heat treatment
processes. If not, the cost of purchasing a vacuum furnace is usually well
worth the overall increase in throughput.

A unique feature of binder jetting systems is the broad
application of different materials. High-energy output is not applied to the
parts, so volatile material can be used. The process is also well-suited to
materials that do not typically melt such as ceramics and composites.

Because binder jetting can accommodate a variety of materials, can print parts quickly, and can be executed in large build spaces without specific vacuum or heating requirements, this AM method offers a number of advantages – especially where higher production level throughput is needed.

With broad expertise in additive technologies, EWI can provide direction on how best to proceed to maximize your new investments. For more information, contact Mason Roalsvig at [email protected].

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