Titanium

What is Titanium

The Titanium used in 3D printing is an alloy reinforced with aluminum and vanadium. The technical name is Titanium 6AI-4V and it’s composed of Titanium (88-90%), Aluminum (5.50-6.5%) and Vanadium (3.50-4.50%).

Titanium is one of the strongest metals you can 3D print with. It also is quite light with a density of 4.41 g/cm3. Combining this with its very low toxicity makes it ideal for medical applications, such as implants.

Titanium objects are 3D printed via DMLS technology. Therefore, they have a high-quality finish that can be compared to CNC-machined models.

Properties

Titanium has an extremely high melting point of 1660 °C (3260 °F). They are also high resistant to oxidation and acid. Because of its density (4.41 g/cm3), the material is lightweight but also very strong.

For more specifications, the table below shows the exact properties of Titanium.

Printing Method

Direct Metal Laser Sintering is a 3D printing technique that uses a high-powered laser to print objects layer by layer from a metal powder. Each layer is formed by tracing a pattern in the powder with a laser, which melts and bonds the material together. This is actually very similar to SLS (Selective Laser Sintering), except that the temperature is high enough to melt the powder, not just sinter it (1500 – 1600 °C). Naturally, this requires a laser with much higher wattage.

When an entire cross-section is traced, the build platform lowers one layer height, and the process continues until the entire part is complete. Any powder that hasn’t been sintered remains in place to support the object that is being made, which eliminates the need for support structures.

Objects printed using DMLS have excellent mechanical properties and the available material range includes materials that are otherwise difficult to process, such as metal superalloys. Due to the high production costs, this technology is not recommended for parts that can be easily manufactured using other methods.

Design Specifications

Thickness & Geometry

The minimum wall thickness for Titanium is 0.5 mm to ensure self-standing stability. Otherwise the wall could collapse or malfunction.

Details

Very small levels of detail (as small as 0.25 mm) are printable with DMLS technology.

Included engravings and embossments should optimally have a minimum 0.4 mm line thickness, 0.15 mm depth, and 0.4 mm overall height.

There are two concerns to be aware of when printing by SLS. First, the powder can get trapped with the model. Second, the layers can get sintered together when there is supposed to be a gap. Therefore, it is important to have a large enough gap between the walls. 0.2 mm is recommended for small models, with larger models potentially requiring more.

If the model will be printed in parts to be assembled, a 0.4 mm width is necessary between the different pieces to ensure fit.