The Virtual Foundry The Virtual Foundry - Copper Print and Sinter Kit - 1.75mm
If you can print plastic, you can make pure metal parts. The Virtual Foundry's Filamet enables users to print bound-metal filament on common 3D printers and debind & sinter printed parts in common kiln equipment. Once parts have been fired in a sintering furnace, the result is a 100% metal 3D printed part.
This getting started bundle includes (1) 500g Spool of The Virtual Foundry's Copper Filamet and all of the necessary accessories needed, excluding the kiln, to take your printed green part to a fully sintered metal part.
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THE VIRTUAL FOUNDRY COPPER PRINT AND SINTER KIT
3D PRINT METAL PARTS AT HOME, IN THE LAB, OR IN THE CLASSROOM
The Virtual Foundry's Filamet Metal, Glass, and Ceramic 3D printing filaments are designed to be printed on any FFF/FDM 3D printer that is compatible with 3rd party materials. The manufacturer recommends that customers use 3D printers equipped with dual gear, direct-drive extruders with all-metal hot ends for the most consistent results. Hardened or stainless steel nozzles at 0.6mm or 0.8mm and a Filawarmer to assist with making the filament more pliable and flexible when printing are also highly reccomended.
Here are some key features of printing with The Virtual Foundry Filamet:
- Low barrier to entry
- Low energy consumption
- Low hardware costs
- Ease of use
- Mature technology (FFF)
- Hardware flexibility – users have full control over their 3D printer configuration
- Safer solution – no chemicals in printing, no chemicals in debinding
WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE COPPER PRINT AND SINTER KIT?
- 0.5kg Spool of Copper Filamet
- Stainless Steel Crucible - 300ml
- Sintering Refractory Ballast - Al2O3 - 1kg
- Sintering Refractory Ballast - Talc - 0.5kg
- Sintering Carbon - 0.5kg
Printing Pure Metal With Filamet
The Virtual Foundry has been a pioneer in the development of metal filament for use with desktop 3D Printers since 2014. Filamet Copper is comprised of 89% - 90% metal and PLA, its PLA base makes this material extremely simple to print and highly compatible with most 3D printers, enabling users to create metal parts without the need to buy expensive industrial 3D printers.
- Slicer Set-up: Basic PLA profile
- Extruder Temperature: 205 - 235°C
- Build Plate Temperature: 40-50°C
- Build Plate Surface: Glass, PEI, Fiberglass, Spring Steel - Treated with Magigoo or Glue (Glass), Painters Tape (PEI/Fiber Glass)
- Nozzle Size: 0.6mm Stainless Steel or Harder
Achieve Consistent, Quality Results When Printing With Filamet
The FilaWarmer was designed to assist you with printing with Virtual Foundry Filamet. As Filamet passes through the warmer, the memory of the Filamet is reset, resulting in a filament that is more pliable and flexible. Other tips to assist you with printing this material include:
- Utilizing a 0.6mm Hardened Steel Nozzle or an 0.8mm Nozzle for High Carbon Iron Filamet
- Starting with Nozzle Temps of 210°C and tuning in the range of 190-230°C
- Setting the flow rate to 135% to start.
HOW MUCH DO SINTERED PARTS SHRINK?
Users have some control over how much their sintered parts shrink. You can shrink the parts by 7% and get about 80-85% density. If you add enough heat and time for the parts to shrink by 20%, your density will be in the low 90s. Some general rules of thumb to consider:
- The less a part is shrunk using heat and time, the less its shape will change.
- The X and Y axes will shrink fairly uniformly. The Z-axis however will have slightly more shrink due to gravity.
- Circles and holes keep their shape well.
- The final thing to remember when starting out is 5% isostatic shrink for Copper and Bronze, 10% isostatic shrink for the steels should be your desired target range.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DEBIND AND SINTER 3D PRINTED PARTS?
- Heat resistant gloves
- Al₂O₃ and Sintering Carbon for Bronze and Copper Filamet
- Steel Blend and Sintering Carbon for Stainless Steel 316L, Stainless Steel 17-4 and Inconel® 718-34 Filamet
Note: Filamet debinds with only heat so there is no extra debinding equipment needed.
Sintering can be done in any kiln that can reach and hold the sintering temperature.
WHAT IS THE SINTERING PROCESS LIKE?
Two things need to happen to be successful while sintering:
The printed part shape will need to be supported, and oxygen will need to be prevented from reaching the part.
Supporting the shape of your printed part is solved by using a refractory ballast: Al2O3 (for copper and bronze) or Steel Blend (for the steels).
The oxygen exposure part is solved with Sintering Carbon.
If you have the oxygen problem solved with shielding gas and/or vacuum, you can ignore any reference to Sintering Carbon in the instructions.
You will still need to manage part shape support, however, the crucible and Al2O3 or Steel Blend will still be needed.
Simply bury your part in the refractory ballast in a crucible. Then, add Sintering Carbon to the top. Place the crucible in your kiln, set the time and temperature program, press go and you’re all set.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR DEBINDING AND SINTERING COPPER AND BRONZE FILAMET
- Kiln / Sintering Furnace
- Refractory Container (Crucible)
- Sintering Refractory Ballast: AI₂O₃ & Talc
- Sintering Carbon
BC1: Place AI₂O₃ refractory in the crucible
BC2: Bury the print in the AI₂O₃, centered in the crucible
BC3: Tamp down and pat the sides of the crucible
BC4: Part should be surrounded by refractory
BC5: Keep at least 15mm between the part and the crucible walls and top of refractory
BC6: Put the crucible in the kiln
BC7: Ramp furnace at a rate of 55.6°C (100°F) per hour to 482°C (900°F)
BC8: Hold at 482°C (900°F) for 4 hours*
BC9: Let furnace cool to room temperature
Apply Sintering Carbon:
BC10: Turn off the kiln and unplug it to cut the power
BC11: Remove the part and refractory from the crucible
BC12: Place Talc refractory in the now empty crucible
BC13: Bury the part in the Talc, centered in the crucible, leaving at least 25mm empty at the top of the crucible
BC14: Tamp down and pat the sides of the crucible
BC15: Part should be surrounded by refractory
BC16: Keep at least 15mm between the part and the crucible walls and top of refractory
BC17: Fill up the whole 25mm of space on the top with the Sintering Carbon
BC18: If possible, place a cover over the crucible – Don’t seal it (the cover can be tool wrap, ceramic or kiln paper. It is used to preserve Sintering Carbon.)
BC19: Put the crucible back in the kiln
BC20: Ramp furnace at a rate of 111.1°C (200°F) per hour to the Sinter Temp (chart below)
BC21: Hold at the Sinter Temp for 5 hours
BC22: Program ends – let furnace cool to room temp from Sinter Temp
*Hold times listed are ideal for a part that is less than a 50mm cube. Hold longer for larger or very thick parts and/or larger crucibles.
Experiment with hold times if the parts are not sintered correctly.
GENERAL SETTINGS AND CRUCIBLE COMPATABILITY CHART:
|Alumina||Graphite||Stainless Steel||Refractory||Debind Temp||Ramp Time||Sub Sinter Temp||Sinter Temp|
|Bronze||Recommended||Good||Good||Al2O3 & Talc
|482°C (900°F)||7.635 Hours
|Copper||Recommended||Good||Good||Al2O3 & Talc
|482°C (900°F)||9.46 Hours
|316L||Recommended||Good||Not Recommended||Steel Blend
|427°C (800°F)||593°C (1100°F)
|Inconel||Recommended||Good||Not Recommended||Steel Blend
|427°C (800°F)||593°C (1100°F)
|17-4||Recommended||Good||Not Recommended||Steel Blend
|427°C (800°F)||593°C (1100°F)
SANDING AND POLISHING YOUR GREEN PRINT
Manipulating prints: When exposed to heat, Virtual Foundry metal filament becomes clay-like. It can be carved, and re-sculpted, pieces can be added and seams smoothed. Soldering irons or wood-burning tools work well for this. For best results, use a tip that won’t be used for soldering/wood-burning and set the temperature to 200-235°C (392-455°F).
How to avoid melting when sanding metal filament: Important! Constant movement to different areas of the part is necessary when sanding to avoid unintentional melting. Experimenting is worthwhile.
Needle file: To make print lines vanish, sand the surface even. The loose particles from sanding are smashed into the print line gaps with the heat from the friction, fixing them in place. This step is complete once the entire print’s surface is smooth and even.
Sandpaper or 3M Radial Disc: Start with 120 grit sandpaper or 80 grit 3M Radial Disc, and go over every part of the print. The matte surface will become shiny as finer grits are used. Complete the entire surface of the print before moving to the next grit. The Virtual Foundry recommends using 4 grits with 3M and 6 or 7 grits with sandpaper. A nice shine can be achieved with less, but the mirror shine comes closer to the 7, ending around 3000 grit. After sanding, rub the print down with some flannel or a sunshine cloth to clean off loose particles. A mirror shine should be evident at this phase, even before the last step.
Sewn Buffing Wheel and Zam: Place sewn buff on a rotary tool, then liberally apply zam to the buff and to your print. The print will melt if it gets too hot, so it is critical to keep the buffer moving and continue to apply zam liberally. It may be useful to practice this step on a simple print or a “failed print.”
If you will be sintering your print: Polishing before sintering is not necessary. Post-sinter, the print will behave as the metal it’s made of – file it, weld it, polish it.
- 1.75mm and 2.85mm +/- 0.05mm in diameter
- Extruder: 205 - 235°C
- Build Plate Temp: 40 – 50°C
- Nozzle Recommendation: 0.6mm Stainless Steel or Harder
- Metal Composition: 89% - 90%