Smith Metal Products, Center City, Minnesota, USA, reports it is now producing quick-return prototypes, similar to those manufactured by Metal Injection Moulding (MIM), via a Binder Jetting (BJT) process. The company uses the metal Additive Manufacturing technology to offer parts to customers for initial in-person evaluation, before series production by MIM begins.
Smith’s new BJT capability is designed to support its customer’s research & development efforts, reducing time-to-market developmental programmes and the need for initial mould building. Producing these prototypes with AM is faster and more versatile than doing so with MIM, which requires the production of expensive test moulds or CNC machined prototypes.
The company states that BJT allows a part to be fully formed before thermal energy sinters the metal particles, thus ensuring high quality and functionality of the end product’s microstructure. Since lead times are reduced, customers can make last-minute adjustments before the final MIM mould is established, thus achieving greater customer confidence in the end result.
Available materials for use with its new system include all those available in Smith Metals’ standard MIM offering, including low alloy steels, stainless steel, most ferrous metals and titanium. Available part sizes range up to around 76 mm long by 6.3 mm thick, weighing up to 100 g. Finished parts are net shape accurate, with in-house finish machining available for closer tolerance features.