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What are supports used for in metal 3D printing?

What are supports used for in metal 3D printing? 15 JUNE 2018

3D printing requires the use of supports as the material cannot be simply printed on “air” using current technology. Therefore, during the design of the part, the designer/engineer has to include the thought process of including supports and part orientation during the 3D printing process, so as to ensure that the parts are printed accurately.

Support structures are shown here supporting the metal prints – they would have to be cut off before the final prints are finished and processed.

Metal printing utilizes supports in 3 different ways:

  1. The support acts as a platform for the next layer to be printed upon. An example would be the section that is not attached to the build plate. The support structures are first printed, then the solid sections are printed on top of the supports.
  2. Support anchors the part to the build plate increasing stiffness and holding thinner features in place. This is critical because of the large temperature gradients that metal parts experience and the resulting residual stresses that can cause warping or deformation.
  3. The lattice geometry of support acts as an excellent heat sink, drawing heat away from the printed part and cooling it at a more controlled rate.

Our team is highly experienced in designing support structures to ensure excellent 3D printing for both metals and non metal parts. Contact us today if you would like to know more about support structures and how they can greatly maximize the stability and durability of printed parts.

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