Metal products

Additive manufacturing enables rapid prototyping for Smith Metal Products

February 8, 2021

These additively manufactured parts support customer’s R&D efforts, providing a bridge to final MIM products (courtesy Smith Metal Products)

Smith Metal Products, Center City, Minnesota, USA, reports that it is now producing quick-return prototypes, similar to those manufactured by Metal Injection Molding (MIM), through a Binder Jetting (BJT) process. The company uses metal additive manufacturing technology to offer parts to customers for an initial in-person evaluation, before serial production begins by MIM.

Smith’s new BJT capability is designed to support the research and development efforts of its customers, reducing the time to market for development programs and the need to build an upfront mold. Producing these prototypes with AM is faster and more versatile than with MIM, which requires the production of expensive test molds or CNC machined prototypes.

The company claims that BJT allows a part to be fully formed before thermal energy sintering the metal particles, ensuring high quality and functionality of the final product microstructure. As lead times are reduced, customers can make last minute adjustments before the final MIM mold is established, thereby gaining greater customer confidence in the end result.

Materials available for use with its new system include all of those available in Smith Metals’ standard MIM offering, including low alloy steels, stainless steel, most ferrous metals, and titanium. Coin sizes available range up to approximately 76mm long by 6.3mm thick, weighing up to 100g. Finished parts have a precise net shape, with in-house finish machining available for tighter tolerance characteristics.