3D Printing Material: Titanium 6AI-4V
On this page you will find all of the information, tips and tricks for a successful 3D print in Titanium 6AI-4V. Specifically you’ll find information on:
- The general features of our Titanium
- Our intelligent 3D metal printing tools
- Our 3D printing technique
- Our tips and a modeling guide
- The technical specifications
Our Titanium 6AI-4V
3D objects printed using Sculpteo's Titanium 6AI-4V are created from a fine metal powder composed mainly of Titanium (88-90%), Aluminum (5.50-6.5%) and Vanadium (3.50-4.50%).
This is grade 5, 6Al-4V Titanium. Titanium-based alloys are very hard and highly resistant to oxidation and acid. The melting point is extremely high (1660° C or 3260° F). It also has a very low toxicity, which means it can be used in many ways.
3D printing with titanium is very precise thanks to the resolution of the laser and the thinness of each layer of powder (30 to 40 µm). With a density of 4.41g/cm3 the material is lightweight but has excellent mechanical characteristics.
The printed parts have a matte and slightly rough surface. It is possible to get smooth and shiny surfaces after printing by using finishing steps. Compared to the other 3D printing materials, titanium has an average surface roughness.
For more information, please refer to our glossary page devoted to 3D printing in titanium.
To learn more about the mechanical properties of our titanium, refer to the Specifications and technical data paragraph.
Advantages and main uses
3D printing of titanium is carried out by laser fusion; there are currently two technologies: DMLS and SLM. At Sculpteo, we use DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) on EOS M280 and M290 machines to print titanium. In these two techniques, the laser beam locally brings the metal powder to its melting point, to create your object layer after layer.
As titanium is fused at more than 1600° C, metal additive manufacturing requires great technical expertise for the pre-study of the thermal and mechanical effects before the 3D print, and excellent knowledge of the finishing techniques for the completion of the object.
Additive manufacturing of titanium parts is often most successful in projects where 3D printing is fully justified because it is the best production method, compared to other manufacturing techniques (casting, machining, cutting). We note that 3D printing is often advantageous for:
- Complex design/wireframe geometries/non-demountable mechanism
- Speed, reduced assembly time
- Topology optimization/weight reduction
- Short runs
- Mass customization
- Remote production
To successfully manufacture your part, it is often necessary to modify the original design. At the risk of repeating ourselves, we prefer to warn you: if you want to create a part in titanium out of curiosity or for fun, you risk being disillusioned when you realize how much effort is involved in achieving it!
Our 3D printed titanium is perfect for precision parts, requiring very thin walls. The grade 5 6Al-4V titanium is suitable for prototypes and functional parts in the aerospace and automotive fields and for military applications (see data sheet). It is also an excellent material for the manufacture of parts with complex geometry or production tooling and injection molding.
There is a specially formulated titanium for 3D printing of prostheses and bone implants (as pictured). This is the Titanium 6Al-4V grade 23. As this metal is non-toxic it is bio-compatible and perfectly suitable for medical implants. It is not available on our website but only on request to our sales team.
Agile Metal Technology
A software suite for 3D printing metal
Sculpteo is developing a new suite of custom tools to meet the challenges of 3D printing titanium. It is a smart, online system that allows you to evaluate, optimize, and manufacture your metal-based projects. This series of tools is combined under the name of "Agile Metal Technology." It combines artificial intelligence and interactive 3D interfaces with Sculpteo's computation engine to give you reliable answers within a few minutes.
Our aim is to offer you:
- A detailed audit of the feasibility of your project
- Specific feedback on your design and how it can be optimized;
- Transparency on prices and the strategy for completing your item;
Control over the production method (orientation, platform strategy) for expert clients;
In the final analysis, you will save time and achieve greater success with your metal 3D printing project. You can find more details on these tools and how you can make use of them for your titanium 3D printing on the dedicated page.
Business Case is the first tool in the Agile Metal Technology suite. It provides an online audit of your 3D printing project. Business Case is an artificial intelligence developed by Sculpteo, which carries out a feasibility study using your 3D file and a series of questions. Our AI uses machine learning, derived from the millions of 3D files and manufactured items that we have processed since Sculpteo was founded in 2009.
This audit only takes a few minutes and gives you an indication of your project's strengths and weaknesses. Business Case also provides a recommendation on the material that it considers to be most suitable.
Business Case learns automatically, so don't hesitate to try it out: the more projects that it reviews, the better its recommendations will be.
3D printing techniques - Processes
Unlike polymer 3D printing technologies, metal additive manufacturing requires an extensive pre-process phase. This is related to the significant thermal phenomena during manufacture, as well as the need to take into consideration dimensional constraints and the degree of finishing required.
DMLS printing requires supports in order to print a part correctly. The support itself is printed from the same powder as the part and will be removed after the printing phase. The supports can:
- Properly attach your object to the platform
- Limit the effects of shrinking during the cooling phase (warping)
- Support closed angles and cantilevered geometries.
Multiple support types are possible and are used depending on the geometry of your part, its dimensions, the density of the final object, the post-process finishing steps...
The model orientation and choice of supports are essential for the success of your titanium project. As with Sculpteo's other 3D printing technologies, these steps are semi-automated: our intelligent system suggests a solution which is then validated by a specialized pre-process engineer.
Printing technique and online prices
DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) printing technology works additively by using a laser to fuse the titanium powder. With SLS technology your piece is created layer by layer according to your 3D model. It goes through several stages before becoming a physical object, they are:
- Transfer of your file to the 3D printer
You create your 3D file on software dedicated to 3D modeling and then upload your model and place an order on our site. We recommend you to upload a native CAD file (STEP, CATIA, igs...) rather than an STL or OBJ file. Your 3D model is then forwarded to one of our 3D metal printers. For titanium it is an EOS M280 or M290.
- Printing of the 3D object
DMLS technology uses a powerful laser to melt successive thin layers of powder. After each pass of the laser, the powder container is lowered and a new thin layer of powder is deposited on the previous one to be melted again. The process is repeated until the object is completed.
- Removal of supports
After the object is printed, it is detached from the printing platform by spark erosion and the supports are removed manually.
- Cleaning and sandblasting
A light sanding is done on the piece to remove the principal traces of the support. Your object is ready to be shipped.
Online prices and delivery
3D metal printing techniques are more complex than the additive manufacturing method for plastics or resins. Although not a precious metal, titanium powder is an expensive material and the cooling time of materials raised to their melting point means that the machinery cannot be used as frequently as in the SLS process. We take these factors into account in calculating the price.
Multiple objects and clusters
It is not possible to print a 3D file containing several objects,
that’s why we cannot accept files that contain clusters of
multiple objects. However, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’ll
pay more for your multiple objects: to reduce the metal 3D
printing cost, we set up a different price calculation as soon
as you order two or more objects in metal.
To get more information on your metal additive manufacturing service, you can contact our qualified sales team.
Quotes and studies on request for more complex projects
Our sales team and dedicated technical team are available to study and quantify your metal additive manufacturing projects. Together we have the modeling and engineering skills for the process and finishes to be able to work with you to create a 3D model perfectly suited to your specification. We also validate with you with the economic advantage and the choice of technology compared to conventional production.
We establish the most appropriate finishing strategy for your specifications by using a wide range of machining operations:
- heat treatment
To achieve your goals, for example, dimensional or surface quality goals.
We can also print in Titanium 6Al-4V Grade 23 on request, and other metals and alloys.
By combining the efficiency of our 3D tools, the intelligent Agile Metal Technology system developed by us and the skills of our engineers, we are able to offer efficient titanium additive manufacturing at the best price.
Contact our technical sales department at: sales[at]sculpteo.com
|Layer Thickness||30 µm|
|Maximum Size||220 mm x 220 mm x 250 mm|
The maximum dimensions of your models are limited by the physical size of our 3D printers - nothing can be printed larger than the printer bed.
Your object must also respect the minimum dimensions of Titanium 3D prints (explained bellow).
Minimum Thickness & Geometry
Minimum wall thickness
Minimum thickness particular design aspects
The walls of your design must adhere to a minimum thickness of 2 mm in order to guarantee the structure will not break. If the walls of your model are less 2 mm, we recommand you to thicken them or add a support structure to maintain stability.
To ensure the solidity of an object, a minimum thickness of 2 mm is recommended.
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 to avoid physical aberrations such as floating parts, unstable position, part supporting too much weight relative to its thickness, etc. Particularly 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 height and width details||1 mm|
|Minimum height and width for a readable text||1 mm
|Enlargement ratio||1 mm|
A detail’s minimum precision is mainly determined by the resolution of our printers. However, during the cleaning process, a fine layer of detail can also be lost. In order for a detail or a text to be visible, we highly suggest you follow 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 if supports are accessible|
|Interlocking parts ?||Yes, but it depends of the interlocking part's orientation, compared to the Z axis|
Minimum Spacing and Clearances
|Minimum spacing between fixed walls||0.2 mm|
|Minimum clearance between parts||0.2 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 0.2 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. In some cases, holes should be added to allow us to drain for the excess powder material within the clearance.
Clearance should be at least 0.2 mm, however that is the minumum for small objects. Larger objects require more space between their parts. This is due to the DMLS printing process. Our printer beds are heated during the process, and larger objects are heated for longer periods. A small space between marge objects runs the risk of melting together as it remains under heat for a long period of time. In some other cases, holes should be added to allow us to drain for the excess powder material within the clearance.
Piece Assembly Restrictions
|Minimum space||0.4 mm|
Objects printed in Titanium can be printed to be assembled. As long as a width of at least 0.4 mm is left between the different parts of the object.
Files with multiple objects ?
This is not possible to 3D print a 3D file containing several objects with Titanium.
Multiple objects and clusters
It is not possible to print a 3D file containing several objects, that's why we cannot accept files that contain clusters of multiple objects . However, don't worry, this doesn't mean you'll pay more for your multiple objects: to reduce the metal 3D printing cost, we set up a different price calculation as soon as you order two or more objects in metal.
To get more information on your metal additive manufacturing service, you can contact our qualified sales team.
Titanium: 88 - 100%
- Aluminum: 5.50 - 6.5°%
- Vanadium: 3.50 - 4.50%
|Mechanical Properties||Conditions||Unit||As Built|
Density of laser-sintered part
1290 ± 80
Elongation at break
8 ± 4
To learn more about Titanium technical specifications, refer to the Titanium Datasheet.
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