Metal 3D printing is a complex technology. It requires to take into account completely other design rules compared to e.g. milling. Volume is expensive and can cause thermal stresses, but the technology enables the use of very complex structures. Metal 3D printing (we mean powder-bed fusion in this case) is of particular interest in the following cases:
- The parts are relatively small (< 1 dm^3 of volume) and the number of required parts is relatively low. If one of both is high, 3D printing is a NO GO. If the part can easily be made with milling, it is also a NO GO.
- The end goal of the application is a set of different milled components currently. With 3D printing it is often possible to replace many components by printing just one part.
- Freeform is necessary, for instance for protheses, dental frames, ...
- Weight is of crucial importance, for instance in airplanes. Weight can be highly optimised with 3D printing, thanks to topology optimisation algorithms and complete freeform.
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