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  1. #1

    The Virtual Foundry Shipping Out Filamet 3D Metal Printing Powder

    Wisconsin-based startup The Virtual Foundry launched a product on Kickstarter that promised to allow a standard desktop 3D printer to create fully-metal parts using the same basic FDM technology that is used to print with thermoplastics. They have now started shipping out rewards and selling the metal powder-infused PLA on their website. Unlike other metal filaments, Filamet is made up of 88% metal powder materials and only 12% plastic, which means that it requires a lot less post processing to achieve its metallic finish. Additionally, the higher metal powder content in Filamet allows any printed parts to be put through a finishing process in a kiln that will burn off the PLA binding materials, sinter the remaining metal particles and leave a fully-metal part behind. You can read more at 3DPrint.com: https://3dprint.com/140472/virtual-foundry-filamet/

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    somebody tell Roxy :-)

  3. #3
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Well then.

    Wisconsin based too. Wonder if they are anywhere near me....

    Madison. Yep. An hour and a half from me. Gonna have to check them out.

  4. #4
    Engineer-in-Training
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    Their website, if anyone cares to check. The filament is expensive, at $85 USD for .5kg, but I suspect that for small components like gears and whatnot this wouldn't be a serious problem. Of course, copper and bronze are a lot more dense than most polymers, so you do have less material per kg also.

    I think in the coming years though, the price should drop.

    http://www.thevirtualfoundry.com/

    Anyone interested in this process should be aware that there is significant shrinkage in this process, due to physically removing a percentage of the material from the component. I can't seem to find their exact numbers, and a test piece would be pretty pricey, but once you get the shrink factor nailed down it should be a pretty good product.

    I do like that they are honest with their photos. They aren't showing touched up pics that remove the natural pits and roughness inherent to these materials. That's far less of a problem with injection molding these polymer/metal compounds, but is still even an issue with that.
    Last edited by Ama-fessional Molder; 07-01-2016 at 10:40 AM.

  5. #5
    Engineer-in-Training Hugues's Avatar
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    I received my spool of copper.

    Neat. Gives a good finish at 0.1mm layer thickness and nice mat color.

    I wanted to build a heat sink for my motor, but i put the project aside for now. The process of burning away the PLA in a kiln put me off for now.

    You have to watch out during printing, the filament can break more easily than PLA, but vendor mentioned that already.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Roxy's Avatar
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    Very Cool!!!! I hope people will start reporting on how good or bad the stuff works for them!

  7. #7
    Hello my name is Jeremiah I am the lead of product support and development at The Virtual Foundry will be glad to answer any questions anyone has

  8. #8
    Student
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    Fascinating stuff! Here is a short description of what is happening during the firing process. It is not a 100% infil product after the firing process. Very creative!!

    "This is Brad Woods, I invented Filamet. The percentage we list is by mass, not volume. The loss of volume is compensated for by a phase our polymer goes through during heating. If you make a print, fire it and cut it in half you can see what's up. Quite simply our polymers "foam up" at a stage after it becomes liquid. This foam and escaping gasses force metal against the walls of the investment creating thick outside walls, and fill the cavity with a geometric form that resembles Styrofoam. Unlike styrofoam the cell walls are very thick, adding strength to the structure."

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