FDM 3d printing has become extremely affordable, easily accessible, but for most printing on plastic is not the ultimate goal. Plastic parts are great for prototyping, however, to convert them into something metal needs the adoption of many different techniques like Die making and casting expertise. I have tried and burnt my hands finding people who are real experts in doing these, and with my personal experience I can tell you that it’s difficult to find people who can do these at an affordable price.
There are other alternatives for metal 3d prints available Vizlaser sintering and metal based 3d filaments. Both these are certainly viable solutions, however both of them have their own limitation. Laser sintering is an expensive affair and unavailable in most places, and all the metal base 3d printing filaments available may give you the look of metal however they are not actually metal prints.
Filamet looks like a perfect solution for people looking for cheap and easy metal printing. Developed by a company called Virtual Foundry and a brainchild of Bradley Woodit’s a Filament that’s made with a mixture of PLA and up to 85% metal. Mr. Woods has launched Filamet on Kickstater and would be available in bronze, brass and copper.
Filamet is not just ordinary metal based filament, the company claims to have found a new way of removing the plastic binding from the object without too much damage to your designs.Based on the concept of Precious Metal Clay, which can simply be modelled into shapes by hand and fired up in a kiln to gain a metal appearance.
Mr. Wood said “"One product that we've worked on since the beginning 3 years ago, is a 3D printable filament that behaves like Precious Metal Clay (PMC). In fact, at one point we even did some prototyping on a printer that would print with PMC," Wood explains to us, stating that they since decided it was not a viable option as the performance was too inconsistent. Since developing Filamet, however, Wood and company discovered that it shares many of the same properties and behaves exactly the same when introduced to high temperatures.
You can create your 3D print the way you always do with Filamet, but you now have one more option on how to process it. After much testing and tweaking, we’ve gotten Filamet to behave almost the same as Precious Metal Clays. So, after prepping the print, you put it in a kiln to burn off the PLA and sinter the copper powders. The result won’t be a truly solid copper product (hence 99.9% rather than a hundred) as it’s the copper particles in the filament are just sintered together.
While this extra process does require you to get a small kiln, it's an extra step that provides you with a large number of new options. With this innovation, we feel that we may have almost attained the Holy Grail of 3d printing? Pure metal prints from existing desktop hardware. I have little doubt that this concept will become mainstream very rapidly. It’s quick, it’s painless, and most importantly it leaves you with a 3d printed object made entire of metal,".
Virtual Foundry plans to raise $25,000 to make Filamet a reality and people seem to be buying the idea with eagerness. The crowd funding has already raised $19,605 with 11 more days to go for the project to end.