Limited material options, prohibitively expensive equipment, and high production costs currently limit the ability of small and medium enterprises to use 3D printing to prototype and manufacture metallic goods. A low-cost open-source 3D metal printer that utilizes gas metal arc welding technology has been developed that could make metal printing accessible to the average consumer. Unfortunately, this technology would demand access to expensive cutting tools for part removal from the substrate. This article investigates several substrate treatments to provide a low-cost method to easily remove 3D-printed 1100 aluminum parts from a reusable substrate. Coatings of aluminum oxide and boron nitride on 1100 aluminum and A36 low-carbon steel substrates were tested. Lap shear tests were performed to assess the interlayer adhesion between the printed metal part and the print substrate. No warping of the substrate was observed during printing. It was determined that boron nitride-coated low-carbon steel provided the lowest adhesion strength. Printing aluminum on uncoated low-carbon steel also allowed easy removal of the aluminum part with the benefit of no additional coating steps or costs.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jmpearce/148/