The Virtual Foundry The Virtual Foundry Sintering Refractory Ballast - Steel Blend - (1kg)
Steel Blend is made for use as refractory ballast when firing Stainless Steel 316L, Stainless Steel 17-4, and Inconel 718-34 Virtual Foundry Filamet in an open environment kiln.
Top Virtual Foundry Steel Blend Sintering Refractory Ballast Features:
• Intended for use with Sintering Carbon
• Compatible with Stainless Steel 316L, Stainless Steel 17-4, and Inconel 718-34 Filamet
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THE VIRTUAL FOUNDRY STEEL BLEND SINTERING REFRACTORY BALLAST
PRINT, DEBIND, AND SINTER AT HOME, IN THE LAB, OR IN YOUR MAKERSPACE
Steel Blend Sintering Refractory Ballast is made for use as refractory ballast when firing Stainless Steel 316L, Stainless Steel 17-4, and Inconel 718-34 Virtual Foundry Filamet in an open environment kiln.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DEBIND AND SINTER STAINLESS STEEL 3D PRINTED PARTS?
- Heat resistant gloves
- 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.
WHAT KILN OR FURNACE SHOULD I USE FOR DEBINDING AND SINTERING?
The Virtual Foundry Filamet can be Dedbinded and Sintered in any kiln so long as the kiln is programmable and can hold the sinter temperature of your desired material for the required duration.
The same kiln you use for sintering will be used for debinding. The Virtual Foundry Filamet debinds using only heat, so this process will happen on the front end of the heat cycle at lower temperatures. No special equipment or chemicals are required for debinding.
Kilns are available for sintering The Virtual Foundry Copper, Bronze, and Steel Filamet
HOW MUCH DO SINTERED PARTS SHRINK?
You have some control over how much green parts will shrink during the Debind and Sinter process. You can shrink the parts 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 90’s. The less they shrink, the less the shape will change. The X and Y axes shrink fairly uniformly. The Z axis will have slightly more shrink due to gravity. Circles and holes keep their shape well.
A good rule of thumb when starting is out is 5% isostatic shrink for Copper and Bronze, 10% isostatic shrink for the steels.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR DEBINDING AND SINTERING STAINLESS STEEL 316L, STAINLESS STEEL 17-4, AND INCONEL 718
- Kiln / Sintering Furnace
- Refractory Container (Crucible)
- Sintering Refractory Ballast: Steel Blend
- Sintering Carbon
S1: Place Steel Blend refractory in crucible
S2: Bury the print in the Steel Blend
S3: Tamp down, don’t pack or smoosh
S4: Leave about 40mm of room on top
S5: Part should be surrounded by refractory
S6: Keep at least 15mm between the part and the crucible walls and top of refractory
S7: Fill that 40mm of room at the top of the crucible with Sintering Carbon
S8: Put the crucible in the kiln
S9: Ramp furnace to 204°C (400°F) over the course of 2 hours.
S10: Hold at 204°C (400°F) for 2 hours*
S11: Over the course of 2 hours, ramp to 427°C (800°F)
S12: Hold at 427°C (800°F) for 2 hours*
S13: Over the course of 1.5 hours, ramp to 593°C (1100°F)
S14: Hold at 593°C (1100°F) for 2 hours*
S15: Over the course of 2 hours, ramp to Sinter Temp (chart below)
S16: Hold at Sinter Temp for 4 hours*
S17: Over the course of 6 hours, ramp down to 593°C (1100°F) – do not hold
S18: Program ends. Let furnace cool to room temp from 593°C (1100°F)
*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 COMPATIBILITY 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.