Step 1:
3D Modeling

Step 2:
Work preparation

Step 3:
3D Printing

Step 4:

Step 5:
Quality control

STEP 1: 3D Modeling

The process of 3D metal printing starts with (the development of) a digital 3D model. For this we use software such as Creo Elements, Inspire, FEM, Fluid CFD, topology optimization. If you already have digital 3D model available, you can supply it to us in the file formats *step, *sat, *3mf, *stl.

If a digital 3D model is not (yet) available, we can be of service. Then use a process called reverse engineering. Based on an existing product, 2D drawing, sketch or image, our 3D engineers create a digital model that is suitable for our printers. We then give advice on possible improvements, choice of material and printing technique.

For free advice about 3D modelling, please contact our 3D engineers.

STEP 2: Work preparation

Now that the digital 3D model is ready, it must be transformed into a file that our 3D printer understands. During the work preparation, the 3D design is cut into slices that are equal to the layers to be printed.

Our printers can print several different models at the same time. Arranging these parts correctly on the print surface is called 'nesting'. In addition, in this phase of the process, the necessary support structures are applied and the 150 parameters are set correctly. The last step in this phase is to generate a file that the 3D metal printer can read. The software we use for this is: Materialize Magics, Netfabb, Additive industries build processor and Inspector.

STEP 3: 3D Printing

When the transformed 3D file has been generated and checked the choice of material is determined and all preparations are made, the actual printing of the metal starts. The 3D file is processed by our MetalFAB1 printer and then the model is built up layer by layer from metal powder that is then fused together with lasers. The printed products are printed on a so-called building board. These products are removed from the building board with a band saw or wire sparker and the models are ready for the next step.

STEP 4: Finishing

At the request of the client, the model can be post-processed in various ways. We offer the following surface treatments: tumbling, blasting, shot peening, polishing, electro (chemical) polishing, gold plating, chrome plating, hard chrome plating, anodizing and teflon plating. If desired, we can also provide the model with a high-quality, protective coating. In addition to these surface treatments, if desired, we also provide mechanical treatments such as: 5-axis CNC machining, conventional turning and grinding. 

STEP 5: Quality control

At all steps of the printing process quality is a top priority at K3D. This also applies to the last phase, the quality control. Evidently we check the dimensions, roughness and density of each printed model. We also have a guaranteed quality during the printing process. By means of a continuous raw material analysis (a report of the most important parameters during the printing process such as oxygen level, temperature, etc.) and the printing of proof samples to determine the density and mechanical properties.

Depending on the specific quality requirements, we perform various analyzes such as powder analyzes and we make reports of the printing process, measurements of geometry, density and mechanical properties. 

Finally, K3D has the ability to 3D scan printed products with a GOM scan. Using this method we are able to check complex shapes very accurately and then compare the printed geometry with the original CAD design.

K3D has already supplied various products to the high-tech industry, aerospace and offshore, each with the necessary traceability and documentation.

We can help you
Stijn Luttikholt
Jimmy Gies