3d metal printing

How 3D Metal Printing Works

Most people are now familiar with the concept of 3D printing, which allows you to “print” an object in layers from the bottom up, based on a 3D computer model that is “sliced” into ultrathin sections and then built up one layer on top of the next.

The concept of 3D printing has been around for more than 40 years, though for much of that time, it was only possible to print objects from soft plastics or liquid polymers. But as the technology improved, people wanted to print more durable objects, specifically from metal. The same processes could not be used, however, due to the high melting point of metals. So scientists conceived of using powdered metals and heating them with lasers.

One of the most common metal 3D printing processes is Selective Laser Melting, or SLM. With the help of high-powered lasers, a layer of metallic powder can be melted in the exact shape of a single slice of the computer model. The liquid metal combines with the layer below, and hardens in place.

After another layer of powder is spread over the build, the laser traces out the next slice of the design, melting and combining it with the material below it. Slowly the object is built up, layer by layer. Once the process is complete, the remaining powder can be recycled, which means there’s much less waste than when machining a piece of metal.

Benefits of 3D Printing

Not only does using less material lower the cost of the raw materials, but it also saves a lot of energy that would go into mining, transporting, and manufacturing those materials.

The technology can be a huge time saver for parts manufacturers that want to speed up the process of prototyping and verifying new designs, which can often take months using traditional methods.

The greatest benefit is probably the design freedom that 3D printing offers. Now engineers can optimize a part for the best shape, size and weight to accomplish a task, without worrying about its “manufacturability.”

3D Printing is Not Always the Best Solution

Of course metal 3D printing is not without its issues. Aerospace, medical, and other precision manufacturing industries place increasingly difficult demands on parts makers. As requirements for precision, durability, and lighter weight increase, scientists keep inventing new materials and processes to meet those requirements.

Even when a part has been successfully designed and printed, it requires “post-processing” to get the desired surface finish, and to remove any temporary support structures that were printed along with the object itself. This adds another layer of time, equipment, and energy to the process of creating a part.

Another issue is dependability. Because 3D metal printing is so new, and so many powdered materials and processes have only recently been available, there’s not enough industrial knowledge or part-specific data to insure that each individual part is free of defects – an absolute requirement when safety is at stake, for example on an airplane.

Metal 3D Printing Services

Metal 3D printers can be very expensive and require experts to operate the printers, while managing the powder safely. Many manufacturers turn to a metal 3D printing service, in order to get a prototype printed quickly, and for much less cost than investing in state-of-the-art equipment and expertise.

For the largest selection of metals in the Southwest, contact Industrial Metal Supply.


bulletproof materials

The Future of Bulletproof Metal

Every day, law enforcement, security officers, and military personnel (along with politicians and movie stars) depend on bulletproof vests for their very lives. The materials used can vary from bulletproof metal plates to man-made Kevlar fabric, to composites, which combine two different types of material together to produce one with superior characteristics.

All of these types of protection rely on the principle of absorbing the bullet’s enormous energy, though they approach this in different ways. And of course, they must do this with the minimal amount of bulk and weight – or they’ll be too uncomfortable to wear.

Current Bulletproof Vest Technologies

Ever since chemist Stephanie Kwolek invented the stronger-than-steel material Kevlar for DuPont de Nemours, other companies have competed to discover even stronger and lighter materials for bulletproof vests. Some of the newer materials for this purpose include Dyneema, Zylon, and Spectra.

Meanwhile, researchers across the globe continue searching for armor materials that are even lighter and stronger – as well as easier and cheaper to make. Some of the proposed materials include ceramic composites with titanium or carbon fibers, and graphene nanowires.

One of the more fascinating new materials that could prove to be the strongest yet is a composite metal foam invented by a team of researchers at North Carolina State University led by Afsaneh Rabiei. This material is much lighter than metal plating, yet can shatter an armor-piercing bullet on contact.

Material Just Like Styrofoam

The new material is a composite made by melting aluminum around hollow steel spheres, which creates air bubbles surrounded by a metal matrix. The result is a metallic “foam.” On impact, the metal spheres squeeze down and the pores collapse – just like squeezing a sheet of bubble wrap or stepping on a piece of Styrofoam.

“What we did is introduce the same concept to metals, and now we have the impact protection, because of the porosity inside,” said Professor Rabiei in a video interview. “But this time you have it against much heavier impact.”

Rabiei’s initial testing showed that the metallic foam could go to 80 percent compression without damage, because the energy is absorbed as the outside force compresses the material.

Later, when a 7.62 x 63 mm M2 armor-piercing round was fired into a sample of metal foam, following standard testing procedures established by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the bullet shattered on impact. The round caused an 8 mm indentation on the back – an 80 percent improvement over the 44 mm indentation allowed by the NIJ standard.

But not only is the metallic foam strong, it’s only about 1/3 to 1/2 the weight of sheet metal, due to the air bubbles inside. In fact, the foam is so strong and light, it can stop a bullet even at a total thickness of less than an inch, making an entire bulletproof metal suit not out of the realm of possibility.

Visit www.IndustrialMetalSupply.com for the Southwest’s largest supply of metal and metal tools and accessories.


Major Periods of Metal Age

3 Major Periods of Metal Age

The history of metal is a long and fascinating one. Before the metal ages, the Stone Age reigned for perhaps millions of years. During that long period, humans learned to shape stones into useful implements, including stone tools and sharp-edged flint blades.

By around 6,000 B.C., people picked up bits of gold which they learned to form into jewelry. They discovered silver by about 4,000 B.C., and eventually used it to make jewelry, coins and bars for commerce. Both metals were scarce and quite soft and malleable, which made them useless for tools and weapons.

As people learned to find and use more practical metals, three distinct “metal ages” began toward the end of the Stone Age, each one overlapping the next. These include the Copper Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age.

Copper Age

By about 4,200 B.C., people began to pick up small nodules of copper and used them to make green or blue paints or to fashion ornaments by hammering flat into various shapes. Repeated heating and hammering resulted in annealing, which made the metal harder but also brittle. In this way, they made simple flat axes and daggers.

They also learned to melt pure copper over a fire and poured it into simple molds. Later they learned how to “smelt” the copper from ore, by melting it at 1200 °C and combining it with charcoal to precipitate out the pure copper.

Copper was still a scarce commodity, so stone continued to be the primary material for many tools until the Bronze Age.

Bronze Age

Bronze is an alloy made primarily of copper with about 10 percent tin and small amounts of other elements. In the late Copper Age, around 4,500 years ago, metalsmiths in China and the Middle East learned how to purify tin from ore and then combine it with copper. The resulting alloy was much stronger and tougher than copper, making it useful for many applications and replacing copper and stone implements in many locations.

Bronze of different types was developed around the world, and used in ploughs, swords, axes, spearheads, armor, helmets, and shields, as well as artistic decorations and scientific implements.

Iron Age

After the Bronze Age, the Iron Age began about three thousand years ago between 1200 B.C. and 1000 B.C. As people became more adept at mining and metalworking, they learned to make useful objects from the iron found in meteorites dropped from space. Later, they learned to smelt iron ores, which are quite common, creating superior weapons and agricultural implements.

Iron is stronger and more plentiful than copper and tin, and became much cheaper than bronze so that regular farmers could afford iron ploughs. The result was an agricultural explosion that altered the pattern of societies.

Iron remained the primary metal of industry for more than two thousand years – until the discovery of steel.

Industrial Metal Supply is a full service supplier of metal, metalworking equipment, and supplies. Metalpedia , , , ,


Things You Didn't Know About metal

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Metal

Metals are some of the most important materials on Earth. Check out these fun facts about metal.

  1. The periodic table consists of 118 known elements, and approximately 95 of these are metals, with a small group of about 7 or 8 “metalloids” that are neither one nor the other, but have properties of both. The classification of metals, metalloids, and non-metals varies a bit, depending on the criteria used.
  2. Most metals are lustrous solids at room temperature. They are malleable and ductile, and able to conduct electricity and heat. They also can be heated and forged or melted and casted.
  3. Pure aluminum, which is the third most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust, was once considered a precious metal worth more than gold, until cheaper methods for separating it out from ore were invented in the 1800s.
  4. Due to their strong metallic bonds, most metals have high melting points. Tungsten has the highest melting point of all pure metals at 6192 °F and the highest boiling point at 10706 °F.
  5. Steel is the most recycled material by far, more than all aluminum, paper, plastic, and glass combined. Steelmaking furnaces in North America recycle nearly 70 million tons of domestic steel scrap each year including cans, cars, appliances, and construction materials, conserving energy, emissions, raw materials, and natural resources.
  6. Mercury, with the lowest melting point of all metals at −37.89 °F, is the only metal that is liquid at standard room temperature and pressure.
  7. Some of the tallest buildings built in the 1800s used cast iron and wrought iron to support the upper floors and roof. But once the Bessemer process for making steel was improved for commercial use, steel frames made possible much taller buildings, such as the 10-story Home Insurance Company Building in Chicago (1884-5), considered the first true skyscraper.
  8. Gold, copper, silver, lead, tin, iron, and mercury, and their alloys, including bronze and brass, were the only known metals up until the Middle Ages.
  9. The Brooklyn Bridge, which opened in 1883, would not have been completed without the work of a woman, Emily Warren Roebling, after her husband, Washington Roebling became incapacitated. The 1,595-ft. span suspension bridge is held up by 15.5-in. diameter cables each containing 5,434 parallel steel wires connecting the masonry towers.
  10. Research has proven that copper and its alloys, such as brass, have natural anti-microbial properties and can quickly kill viruses and bacteria. Hospitals and food service institutions use these metals on frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, faucets, hand rails, etc., to help prevent the spread of disease.

Industrial Metal Supply is your number one source of metal and metal equipment supplies and accessories. Visit us at one of our six locations or online at www.industrialmetalsupply.com.


Types of Red Metals

Types of Red Metals and Their Differences

In the world of metals, three particular types stand out for their unusual red coloring. Copper, brass and bronze are related, but each has different properties that make it appealing for different uses. All three are found in a huge array of applications –including building construction and architecture, fine arts and sculpture, musical instruments, auto manufacturing, marine hardware, electrical components, HVAC systems, and machined parts and components.

Copper Metal

Copper is one of the few metals directly usable in its natural state, and it was one of the first metals mined by early humans. The most common red metal, copper is the base metal for the other two, which are alloys of copper.

Copper’s electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties make it useful for many applications. Its resistant to bacteria makes is ideal for medical applications or surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom counters and backsplashes, sinks and tubs. On top of that, copper has a built-in corrosion resistance, which means it can withstand the outdoors and other wet applications, such as roofing or plumbing.

The most common type of copper, alloy 110 is 99.9 percent pure. Copper 110 bar displays enhanced electrical conductivity, making it the product of choice for electrical components such as terminals, bus bars, conductors, and connectors.

Copper is easy to bend and form, with excellent dimensional control and good crack resistance. It also can be extensively machined, soldered and brazed, making it ideal for a wide range of applications in the automotive, industrial, architectural and building industries. For example, fabricators use copper for blanking, drawing, shearing, and stamping while other common uses include pressure vessels, heat exchangers, cotter pins, rivets, radiators, gaskets, roofing and gutters.

Brass Metal

Brass is an alloy, or mixture of copper and zinc, along with small amounts of other metals. Brass provides good durability, high corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, non-sparking qualities, and excellent aesthetics, all at a lower cost than comparable copper or bronze materials. Brass is easy to machine and otherwise fabricate, as needed, making it an ideal material for a wide range of applications.

Known for its decorative use in architecture due to its bright gold appearance, brass is also used extensively in the manufacturing, construction, electrical and plumbing industries. Brass is used to make gears, bearings, valves, ammunition casings, nuts, bolts and threads, and marine hardware.

Bronze Metal

Bronze is an alloy of copper that’s mixed with about 12 percent tin, which adds to its strength and corrosion resistance. Bronze has been used for thousands of years for coins, statues, doors, tools, weapons, candlesticks, armor, musical instruments, and many other objects. Like copper, it has a natural resistance to corrosion. Bronze is more of a dull gold than a red metal, and it usually has rings on the surface caused by the manufacturing process.

Silicon bronze, the most widely used form of bronze used in modern times, is a low-lead brass alloy composed of 96 percent copper with the addition of a small percentage of silicon, which provides natural lubricity. It is known for its easy pouring ability and attractive surface finish. Silicon bronze is highly corrosion resistance and roughly as strong as steel. Thanks to these properties, silicon bronze sheet is ideal for use in salt water and fresh water applications, as well as pumps, boilers, pump components, no-lead castings and plumbing, statuary, bearings & bushings, and valve stems.

Bearing bronze has a high lead content of 6 percent to 8 percent. Like silicon bronze, bearing bronze offers low friction and high corrosion resistance, as well as excellent wear resistance and high hardness. As the name suggests, bearing bronze sheet is most often used for bearings, bushings, and similar applications.

Silicon bronze and bearing bronze can be found in a variety of industrial applications. These materials are strong, corrosion resistant, and non-magnetic. Silicon bronze is relatively easy to machine, while working bearing bronze requires more fabrication expertise.

Industrial Metal Supply stocks a wide range of styles and sizes of red metals, including multiple size options of copper, brass, and bronze in the form of round or rectangular bar, sheet, plate, or foil. We also stock a line of decorative brass railing from Lavi Industries.


Aluminum or Aluminium?

According to Grammarist.com, the correct name for Element 13 on the Periodic Table can be either “aluminum” or “aluminium.” The silver-ish metallic element, with symbol Al, can be found throughout the Earth’s crust. This lightweight metal has become a highly utilized material for aerospace, automotive, packaging, and many other applications where minimizing weight is key.

 

So what’s the history behind the aluminum spelling debate? The English chemist Sir Humphry Davy, who had already named several elements, predicted the metal’s existence within the mineral alumina – though he was not the first to isolate it. Apparently, Sir Davy himself caused the confusion, when he first used the name “alumium” in 1808, then later, “aluminum,” and finally “aluminium” in his 1812 book Elements of Chemical Philosophy.

 

Gradually, over the 19th Century, Canada and the United States settled on aluminum, while the U.K. and the rest of the world called it the more scholarly sounding “aluminium.” The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) now accepts both spellings, though even in North America, several scientific organizations prefer adding the extra letter “i.” Meanwhile, popular publications, such as the New York Times, stick to the American way.

 

In addition to its light weight, aluminum can be easily machined, is a good conductor of electricity, and is also prized for its corrosion resistance, making it an ideal material for industry and architecture – especially in locations subject to chemical or saltwater exposure.

 

Industrial Metal Supply carries a variety of aluminum angle and other aluminum shapes, such as tees, I-beam and channel, for use in a wide range of applications, such as scaffolding, ship & building construction, transmission towers, truck trailers, machined parts, and furniture.  

 

Contact IMS today for more information and to order aluminum shapes.

 


How Wire Mesh is Made

Wire mesh sheet is a highly versatile product used for a wide variety of applications, from safety fencing, concrete reinforcement, light fixtures, to air filtration. Wire mesh can be made of many different metals – such as carbon steel or stainless steel – with a range of gauges and hole sizes.

Wire mesh comes in two basic types: woven wire mesh and welded wire mesh.

Both types of mesh begin with extruding a metal rod, tube or wire through a number of dies that are successively smaller to create a thinner wire which is then wound on a spool. The wound wire later can be run through a straightening machine and cut in desired lengths for the next part of the process.

Woven wire mesh

Weaving wire into mesh is similar to the process of weaving cloth. First, a wire loom is set up with long lengths of wire strung parallel through the machine like yarn warp threads.

As the machine operates, wire harnesses lift alternate strands of the wire, allowing a shuttle to pass between strands perpendicularly, pulling along a filling wire, similar to a yarn weft. Then a batten presses the filling wire against the mesh and the harnesses lift the opposite strands so the shuttle can pass through in the opposite direction, producing an over-under weave.

Other weave patterns can also be created.

Welded wire mesh

Another type of wire mesh, sometimes called welded wire fabric, can be made with an automatic wire welding machine. This type of mesh consists of a series of parallel and perpendicular wires spaced at equal distances and welded at the intersections.

To set up the machine, wire is strung through a row of automatic feeders that push the long parallel strands through the welder. To create the cross-wires, another feeder drops short perpendicular sections of wire down on top of the parallel wires. At the intersections between parallel and perpendicular wire, a row of electrical resistance weld heads then fuses the joints and the mesh is pulled ahead, while another perpendicular wire drops down.

Contact Industrial Metal Supply today for more information about wire mesh or to get a quote.


The Industrial Metal Supply Stainless Steel Guide

Stainless Steel is considered as one of the best metals, and provides various benefits including its ease of fabrication, strength, and anti-bacterial properties. We encounter different types of stainless steel in multiple places in our everyday lives whether we realize it or not. From its discovery in 1913, stainless steel has been a popular and preferred metal by many partly due to its lustrous appearance, as well as its durability and versatility.

In our guide, you’ll discover some more benefits and interesting facts about Stainless Steel.

Industrial Metal Supply Co. Stainless Steel Guide


What is A2 Steel?

A2 is the most common grade of steel bar used to make tools for shaping metal, wood, and other materials. A2 medium-carbon chromium alloy steel is a member of the cold work tool steel group, designated by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), which includes O1 low-carbon steel, A2 steel and D2 high-carbon high-chromium steel.

Cold work tool steel is a good choice for parts requiring a balance of wear resistance and toughness. They also work well for parts that need a minimum amount of shrinkage or distortion during the hardening process.

The wear resistance of A2 steel is intermediate between O1 and D2 steel, and it has relatively good machining and grinding properties. A2 is tougher than D2 steel, and has better dimensional control after heat treatment than O1 steel.

Altogether, A2 steel represents a good balance between cost and physical characteristics, and is often considered a general purpose, universal steel.

Composition

A2 steel is the most commonly used variety of the Group A steels listed in the ASTM A682 standard, which are designated “A” for air hardening.

During the heat treating process, the medium carbon content of about 1% allows A2 steel to develop full hardness through cooling in still air – which prevents the distortion and cracking that could be caused by water quenching.

The high chromium content (5%) of A2 steel, along with manganese and molybdenum, allows it to achieve full hardness of 57-62 HRC in thick sections (4 inches in diameter) – giving it good dimensional stability even for larger parts.

Applications

A2 steel bar is available in a several forms, including square, round, and rectangular. This highly versatile material can be used for a wide variety of tools that require wear resistance, such as industrial hammers, knives, slitters, punches, tool holders, and woodworking cutting tools.

For inserts and blades, A2 steel resists chipping so that it lasts longer, often making it a more economical choice than high-carbon D2 type steel.

It is often used for blanking and forming thread roller dies, stamping dies, trimming dies, injection mold dies, mandrels, molds, and spindles.

Industrial Metal Supply stocks A-2 tool steel bar in square, round and rectangular cross-sections in a variety of sizes. Contact IMS for a quote or visit one of our showrooms today.


Embossed Rigidized Sheet Metal

Embossed (Rigidized) Metals

Rigidized®, or embossed metals, pioneered in the 1940s by the Rigidized Metals Corp. of Buffalo, New York, are an attractive way to add value to stainless steel sheet for a wide variety of applications.

The three-dimensional deep-texturing process that creates rigidized metal enhances durability and beauty while adding structural strength, impact resistance, and the ability to hide scratches. It also allows for down-gauging, resulting in lighter, longer-lasting products and significant cost savings.

The process can be applied to any metal sheet, including: steel, stainless steel, copper, aluminum, brass, titanium, bronze, galvanized sheet, perforated sheet, and galvanneal.

Embossed metals can be produced with an unlimited number of textures, such as leather, linen weave, wood grain, stucco, sand texture, and squares. The textures can completely cover the surface, or can be applied in a pattern, such as diamond or wave.

Aesthetic Appeal

For interior architectural applications, rigidized metals are used in countertops, walls, floors, ceilings, backsplashes, range hoods and other applications where metallic beauty and long-term durability are important. They make an artistic statement, adding a perfect accent to any room.

Metal finishes can add even more drama to the three-dimensional embossed pattern. These include:

  • powder coated and highlighted
  • colored
  • low reflectivity matte finish
  • “coined” linen, squares and sand-tex
  • vibration non-directional polish
  • random swirl
  • bead blasted

In addition to aesthetic qualities, rigidized metals keep designs looking attractive longer by defying dents – thanks to improved impact resistance – and resisting scratches, due to the reduced surface contact area. This saves on maintenance and long-term replacement costs.

For architectural, industrial and transportation applications, embossed metal sheet brings both design and functional benefits to building products, elevators, door panels, appliances, metal office furniture, and automotive trim. The strength of rigidized metal helps prevent “oil canning,” or waviness in wall claddings. It can also be used to control reflections and eliminate harsh glare.

Improved Performance

Embossing sheet metal improves its functional performance in a number of ways. It can reduce static and friction, increase stiffness and rigidity, increase total surface area for improved heat transfer or acoustic transmission, disperse liquid more efficiently to prevent corrosion, and improve traction – for example in diamond plate.

Durability and Sustainability

The Rigidizing process increases sheet metal durability – providing long-term cost savings – and saves weight, which allows use of lighter gauges.

Rigidized metal in an architectural design is an environmentally responsible choice, and contributes to credits for a LEED building certification. For example, using thinner gauge material for the same strength reduces consumption of natural resources. Rigidized stainless contains up to 60% recycled content and can be fully recycled itself. It produces no volatile organic chemical emissions (VOCs) and has no surface coatings that could pollute the environment.

Industrial Metal Supply offers three material options for rigidized embossed and textured sheet:

  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Brass

View our data sheet for additional information on rigidized metals. Questions? Contact us today!