With Ultrafuse 316L, BASF 3D Printing Solutions launches an innovative metal-polymer composite for Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) into the market. It enables the safe, simple, and cost-efficient production of fully metal parts for prototypes, metal tooling, and functional metal parts in the simplest 3D printing process. After the subsequent industry-standard debinding and sintering, the final 3D printed part is 316L stainless steel.
FFF refers to a 3D printing process in which parts are built-up layer-by-layer from a moldable material, originally limited to thermoplastics. Ultrafuse 316L, a metal filament with polymer content, uses the same process; first, a suitable 3D printer builds a part layer-by-layer, with the polymer content of the filament acting as a binder. The main polymer content (primary binder) from the so-called green part is removed in a catalytic debinding process. The result of this process is the brown part, which consists of pure metal particles and a residual binder (secondary binder). The sub-sequent sintering process at temperatures right below the melting temperature of the metal removes the secondary binder from the brown part and causes the metal particles to coalesce. The material reaches its final properties post-sintering, for example with regard to hardness and strength.
The metal content in the high 90% range and the even distribution of the metal within the binder matrix reduces the risk of defects and increases the success rate. Due to immobilization of metal particles in the binder matrix into a filament dramatically reduces the potential hazards of handling fine metal powders when compared to Selective Laser Melting, Direct Metal Laser Sintering, Direct Metal Deposition, and Binder Jetting.