3D Printing Material: Alumide
On this page you will find all of the information, tips and tricks for a successful 3D print in alumide. Specifically you’ll find information on:
Objects printed in alumide are made from a mix of polyamide powder and fine aluminum particles. The raw material makes for a matte surface which is somewhat porous and shiny. Alumide is no more or less durable than polyamide. In fact, their physical properties are very similar. This makes for great freedom in your designs - allowing for both complex and inclosed volumes.
Processing times and pricing
The printing price of your design is calculated automatically the moment it is placed online. As you modify your object (changing size, using hollowing feature, etc.) you will note that the price changes automatically. The pricing is based on a series of factors, including: volume of material used, size of object, and multiple other factors.
The shipping delay for an alumide object is 3-6 days. This time can vary depending on the current volume of orders being processed. Adding a finish, like polishing or dyeing, can add a few days to this time. The estimated shipping time is also calculated automatically as the object is uploaded.
Delivery time should be added to processing time and depends on the delivery option you choose.
Sculpteo uses a process called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) for all alumide prints. After your design is uploaded to the Sculpteo website, it undergoes a couple steps before it is physically created:
- Model transferred to 3D printer
- Object is 3D printed
- Object is removed from batch
- Brushing and sandblasting
Once you transfer your 3D model and submit your order on our website, it is received by a Sculpteo team member, who expertly places the model into the next available batch. The object is then printed through one of our EOS P395.
SLS uses a highly specific laser that sinters thin layers of our alumide powder together one layer at a time. After each round of lasering, the printing bed is lowered and another layer of powder is evenly swept across the top for another round of sintering. This process is repeated until the object is completed.
After the printer cools, the block of sintered powder is removed from printer and the printed objects are removed by hand. A part of the powder that was not sintered is recycled back into the printer for a future print.
The object is then brushed, which removing a large portion of the powder, and sandblasted, which removes the fine powder that the brush may have missed.
Uses and maintenance
Alumide offers great flexibility for a 3D print, especially complex models, as it is durable, and not too expensive. As a result, it can be used for ornamental objects that require metallic appearance or mechanical parts which are subject to low stresses.
With regards to water qualities, alumide is water-resistant but not waterproof. Thus the 3D object must not stay in contact with water for extended periods of time. In terms of temperature, if the alumide is subjected to heat above 120°C (248°F), the physical form of the object can significantly be altered.
As a result of their rough surface, objects in alumide quickly become dirtied. This can often be fixed with soapy water and a cloth, letting it dry thoroughly.
Finishes and colorings
- Raw: sandblasted but unpolished, surface remains somewhat rough, most economical.
- Polished: polished through mechanical polishing, smoother to touch, layers still somewhat visible on rounded objects.
The objects printed in a grey color, though they can be monocolored in a large bath. The available colors include: grey, black, blue, red, green.
The piece is colored in multiple steps:
- The color’s pigments are mixed in a lukewarm water bath
- The object is completely submerged within the color mixture
- Final cleaning and shipment
The dye bath and mechanical polishing machine introduce a size restriction on your object, as the object will need to be completely submerged in the tint and/or abrasives. To learn more please check out size restrictions bellow.
|Layer Thickness||150 µm|
Our alumide 3D printer, the EOS P395 gives us a layer precision of 150 µm (0.15mm).
|Maximum size grey/unpolished||190 mm x 240 mm x 315 mm (7.48 in x 9.45 in x 12.40 in)|
|Maximum size colored||190 mm x 240 mm x 315 mm (7.48 in x 9.45 in x 12.40 in)|
|Maximum size polished|| 180 mm x 150 mm x 150 mm (7.08 in x 5.91 in x
The maximum size of your models are limited by the physical size of our 3D printers - nothing can be printed larger than the printer bed -, the one of our mechanical polishing machine and dye baths.
Your object must also respect the minimum dimensions of alumide 3D prints (explained bellow).
Minimum Thickness & Geometry
|Minimum wall thickness||1.5 mm|
|Minimum wall thickness for particular design aspects||2 mm|
The walls of your design must adhere to a minimum thickness of 1 mm in order to guarantee the structure will not break. If the walls of your model are less than 1 mm, we recommend you thicken them or add a support structure to maintain stability.
For an object that is sure to be solid, a minimum thickness of 2 mm is recommended.
Sculpteo offers an online solidity check tool which highlights parts of the print that may be too thin for a print. From there you are able to tweak your design in order to create an object that is an appropriate thickness. To use it, you just need to upload your 3D file, select your material and click on “Verification” tab.
It is also important to keep in mind that the object is to be printed in a physical form. Thus if a thin aspect is supporting something that is too heavy for it, it may break - even though it is possible with the physics provided within the 3D printing program. We recommend adding a bit of thickness to the places that will get a lot of handling, or that support the most weight.
Keep in mind that our solidity check tool does not detect physical aberrations such as floating parts, unstable position, part supporting too much weight relative to its thickness, etc.. Particular care must be given to the geometry of your design and the most stressed parts must be thicken.
|Minimum size of details||1 mm|
|Minimum size of text||1 mm|
A detail’s minimum precision is mainly determined the resolution of our printers. However, during the cleaning process, a fine layer of detail can also be lost. In order for a detail and text to be visible we recommend following our recommended sizes at the very least. To ensure a better powder removal (thus a better detail precision), the width of your details must be at least as big as depth.
Enclosed and Interlocking Volumes
|Enclosed parts ?||Yes|
|Interlocking parts ?||Yes|
Our alumide material has the ability to be printed in the some complex designs. An example of a complex design is a volume enclosed within another volume or with articulations. Our alumide 3D printers have the ability to print in a fully interlocked object out of the printer, with no support structures to remove.
Minimum Spacing and Clearances
|Minimum spacing between fixed walls||0,5 mm|
|Minimum clearance between parts||0,5 mm|
For a successful 3D print a minimum clearance between objects is required to allow excess material to be sand blown out. If this space is not left within the design, the object will be a solid. This is particularly important for articulated objects - as the space left between the walls will define the object’s ability to move.
Clearance should be at least 0.5 mm and depends on your objects size. For big sizes, the clearance should be greater. The heated zone of your object depends on the size, the larger the object the more time it will be exposed to high temperature : if the space left between the walls is too small, it will be weld because of heat spreading.
|Minimum space||0,5 mm|
Objects printed in alumide can be printed to be assembled. As long as a width of at least 0.5 mm is left between the different parts of the object.
Our online hollowing optimization tool has the ability to greatly reduce the price of a print by reducing the amount of material used.
Using the tool requires adding two holes to your model, which will serve as the drain for the excess powder material within the object. The minimum size of these holes is determined by our website. Otherwise it is possible to hollow your object manually in your 3D modeling software.
|Files with multiple objects ?||No|
This is not possible to 3D print a 3D file containing several objects with alumide.
|Density of laser-sintered part||EOS-Method||g/cm3||1.35 ± 0.05|
|Tensile Modulus||DIN EN ISO 527||N/mm2||3600 ± 150|
|Tensile strength||DIN EN ISO 527||N/mm2||45 ± 3|
|Elongation at break||DIN EN ISO 527||%||3 ± 0.5|
|Melting point||DIN 53736||°C||min. 172 / max. 180|
To learn more about alumide technical specifications, refer to Alumide Datasheet.
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