The best way to choose the right 3D printing technology is to order and make test prints, and check whether 3D printers of this type will be used in the company and meet the expectations? Customers usually send the same details for testing, which they will later print for their own needs – it happens, however, that either they cannot do it (due to the protection of intellectual rights) or they do not have it yet (e.g. by making them in other manufacturing techniques, do not currently have a .STL file). The solution are then the so-called benchmarks, i.e. models that can be used to compare the quality of work of different 3D printers.
In FDM / FFF technology, for many years this type of model has been an inconspicuous toy boat called 3DBenchy. Despite its amateur character, it is perfect for testing (especially the cheapest) devices and filaments, bringing out any imperfections, defects and construction or quality shortcomings. In the case of higher additive technologies of an industrial nature, it is worse with this type of test models – i.e. it is difficult to find one type which will be a representative for the whole range of products using a given additive method at work. This is especially true for the metal 3D printer segment.
However, perhaps that such a detail was created a long time ago, but no one came up with it to start using it for this purpose? In the promotional video of Siemens and EOS, a case study is presented on the additive production of metal gas turbine blades, carried out in cooperation with both companies. As Dr. Markus Seibold – head of the additive manufacturing department at Siemens Power and Gas said in it:
If you can print a turbine blade, you can print almost anything (…) This is one of the most difficult applications to make from metallic powders.
At first glance, a small turbine blade seems to be a fairly simple part, but this is only appearances… To make it in a correct and fully functional way, you must meet the following requirements:
- the blade must withstand extreme forces generated by the fast rotation
- it must withstand a high temperature of 1250°C
- it must be reliable, because its falling out / chipping / breaking during operation can destroy the entire turbine
- it must be as light as possible and have very thin walls
- must meet extreme aerodynamic criteria.
The above turbine blade has not been and is unlikely to be made available by Siemens for download, because it is quite a unique intellectual value, however, it may become an inspiration for other designers who could create a reference object that would be its equivalent. This type of 3D model would have a chance to become the “metal” equivalent of thermoplastic 3DBenchy and successfully serve as a test model not so much within the sale of machines as offering 3D metal printing services.