Printable Steel Powder Targets Molds, Tools

An improved additively manufactured steel suitable for use in injection molds may be on the way.

NanoSteel, a producer of nanostructured steel materials based in Providence, Rhode Island, is launching BLDRmetal L-40, a case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility (case hardness >70HRC, 10%+ core elongation).

SLS can produce complex shapes such as die set made with new steel. (NanoSteel)

Robyn Kennedy, marketing communications manager of NanoSteel, told The Molding Blog: “We haven’t tested this material in an injection molding application yet. However, we believe the BLDRmetal L-40 material would be suitable because it has superior hardness and ductility than materials currently available for additive manufacturing, such as M300 maraging steel. Injection molders would like to use P20, but this material cracks when used in in the laser powder bed fusion process, and we believe that the L-40 material will be able to deliver competitive performance without cracking, thereby delivering on the benefits of 3D printing.”

In a demonstration with printing partner CFK GmbH of Kriftel, Germany, an 8-inch roll thread die set was printed with the new ferrous printing material.

“We tried nearly every combination of material and conventional CNC machining process to create our dual-thread die sets, none of which could cut or grind the complicated dual-thread geometry,” said Mark Doll, President and CEO of Perfect Lock Bolt America Inc., the only manufacturer of dual-thread fasteners in North America that are said to be resistant to self-loosening. The new die set is going into production this year.

“For us, the most important attributes of NanoSteel’s BLDRmetal L-40 are that it is easily implemented and creates crack-free high hardness components, which sets it apart from the many other tool steels we have tested” said Christoph Over, CEO at CFK.

Use of SLS to make tool inserts has been around for more than 20 years, but has not taken off. The new material claims superior material properties over those currently available. Most 3D printing of tool inserts is done for short runs with plastic materials.

Founded in 2002, NanoSteel is a privately held company funded by investors including GM Ventures, Lear Corporation and SPDG.

About Doug Smock

Former Chief Editor at Plastics World and Senior Technical Editor Design News
Additive manufacturing, Molds & Moldmaking ,

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