Desktop Metal is expanding its portfolio of metal materials for its Studio System with the release of 4140 chromoly steel. Recognized as one of the more versatile chromoly steels, 4140 demonstrates good toughness, high tensile strength, and good resistance to abrasion and impact. The 3D printing metal has applications across many industries, including automotive, oil and gas, pumps and hydraulics, agriculture and defense.
Desktop Metal’s Studio System is marketed as the world’s first office-friendly metal 3D printer, largely because of its ability to print metal parts from safe-to-use bound metal rods. In contrast to powder, which can be hazardous to handle, Desktop Metal’s materials are made up of metal powders mixed with wax and polymer binder to create rods which are safely contained within cartridges.
To date, the company has released four metal materials for its Studio System: 17-4 stainless steel, 316L stainless steel, H13 tool steel and now chromoly 4140 steel. Two other metals—Alloy 625 and copper—are currently in development.
“As global demand for the Studio System grows, Desktop Metal is broadening its materials portfolio to include 4140 chromoly steel, enabling designers and engineers to print a broad variety of critical industrial applications, such as couplings, forks, pinions, pump shafts, sprockets, torsion bars, worm gears, connecting rods, and fasteners,” commented Ric Fulop, CEO and Co-Founder of Desktop Metal. “Now, teams around the world will be able to leverage the Studio System to iterate quickly on 4140 prototypes and ultimately produce end-use, customer-ready parts faster and more cost-effectively.”
Desktop Metal has highlighted a number of early uses for its new metal material in conjunction with the Studio System, which itself is built for prototyping and low volume production.
In the automotive sector, for instance, the new metal is ideal for producing connecting rods—a critical component in combustion engines, connecting the piston head to the crankshaft. During combustion, the connecting rod undergoes significant loads and high temperatures, which means that even during testing the part must be resistant. Because of 4140’s good temperature resistance and mechanical strength, the metal is well suited for manufacturing functional connecting rod prototypes.
In the agriculture industry, 4140 chromoly steel can be used to print mechanical couplings for agricultural machinery. The complex parts are used to connect two rotating parts and require a certain degree of customization. Because of this, machining these parts has typically been challenging and expensive, so additive manufacturing has presented a promising solution. With the Studio System, Desktop Metal says functional mechanical coupling prototypes can be printed in just a few days and can be tested and reiterated until the best design is reached.
The versatile 4140 can also be used to produce custom press brake tools for sheet metal bending. By using the strong chromoly steel and the Studio System, sheet metal tooling shops can quickly design and fabricate custom tools while maintaining a low cost per part.
“It’s well-known in additive manufacturing that the selection of metal materials is limited to a few options for high value-added parts,” said Dominique Ghiglione, R&D Manager – Materials & Process at CETIM, the Technical Centre for Mechanical Industry. “The fact that Desktop Metal offers 4140 is excellent news for the mechanical industry. This material is indeed the ‘Swiss army knife’ because of its good performance-to-cost ratio and its mechanical characteristics. This material is found in many automotive components, special machines, construction machinery, agricultural machinery, and so on. CETIM knows this material very well for having used it for a number of mechanical applications. Having this steel to use with our Studio System will allow us to effectively continue the spread of metal additive manufacturing within the mechanical industry.”