H13 Tool Steel Now Available for Markforged Metal X PrinterDecember 12, 2018
Markforged has launched H13 tool steel for its Metal X desktop-sized metal printer, enabling users to print parts in high-strength, high-temperature applications, including metalforming tools, dies and punches; hardened inserts for fixtures; and injection molds with conformal cooling channels, according to company officials.
H13, a hot-work tool steel, retains high strength at elevated temperatures, and is known for exhibiting excellent red hardness, resistance to thermal fatigue, high toughness, ductility, good abrasion resistance and excellent through-hardenability. Because H13 can be 3D printed via the Metal X, claim Markforged officials, users can print parts with traditionally difficult and costly unique and complex geometries. For example, printing an H13 injection mold featuring conformal cooling channels would more effectively move heat away from the mold cavity and provide more uniform cooling, leading to less part-warp, shorter cycle times and higher throughput, and ultimately, lower operational costs.
Case in point is Grant Engineering, a California company that, since 1982, has been creating millions of parts per year from injection-molded plastics for its biotech, high-tech and consumer-product customers. Grant Engineering, an early adopter of the Metal X printing system, also uses Markforged’s Mark 2 for printing end-of-arm tooling and fixtures. Since receiving the Metal X system, the company has been printing 17-4 PH stainless-steel injection molds successfully, with minimal post-processing. Grant Engineering now hopes to further reduce iteration time and cost for injection molds printed in H13.
“Injection molding is the core of what we do,” says Randy Grant, co-founder and co-owner of Grant Engineering. “Much like the robots and automation we’ve already introduced into our workflow, we see 3D printing–especially the Metal X–as a way to keep us hyper-competitive on cost and turnaround time while still delivering the precision and quality we’re known for. Being able to 3D print H13 should enable a lot of innovation with injection molding.”