The first application of bound metal manufacturing was the Metal Injection Molding (MIM) process, developed in the US around 1920. While loose metal powder presents danger to operators and workers, including inhalation hazards, poisoning, and explosion risks, the MIM process binds metal powders together with a polymer or hard wax, allowing the mixture to be injected into a mold and solidified in seconds. Before the metal powder in the molded part can be sintered together to form a dense metal part, it must go through a “debinding” step, during which the wax or polymer needs to be carefully dissolved away in a heated vat of solvent.
The first generation of bound metal 3D printers simply extended traditional MIM technology, printing parts that are a mixture of a metal powder and a polymer, and requiring the same type of debinding step as MIM parts do. At Rapidia, a key realization was that because 3D printing takes an order of magnitude more time than metal injection molding, it is possible to bind the metal powder with water instead of polymers, since most of the water simply evaporates away during printing. While Rapidia was not the first to consider this process, it is the first company to bring to the market a complete solution utilizing this process while adding several further advantages not possible with the polymer binding process seen in other metal 3D printers.
When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.