About the Material
316L is a molybdenum-bearing, fully austenitic stainless steel. It’s known for its excellent corrosion resistance—for example, it’s resistance to pitting corrosion—and mechanical properties at both high and low temperatures. 316L is a common material used in a wide variety of applications, including:
- Chemical and petrochemical processing
- Food processing
- Laboratory equipment
- Medical devices
- Power generation
- Petroleum refining
- Water treatment
- Pulp and paper manufacturing
BMD + 316L
The ability to use 316L with the Studio System+’s extrusion-based metal 3D printing process, Bound Metal Deposition (BMD), makes it easy for designers and engineers to print 316L parts on demand in their office or lab. Teams can iterate quickly on prototype parts and achieve complex geometries that have not been possible with traditional manufacturing methods. These new capabilities, as well as a cost-effective solution for printing parts in low volume (think custom or replacement parts), are especially important for applications requiring 316L.
Application Example #1: Fuel Nozzle by John Zink Hamworthy Combustion
The UHT nozzle is a fuel atomizer used with a medium, such as steam or air. It is typically installed in an HXG marine burner, which is used on steam propulsion boilers on LNG tankers. The purpose of the atomizer is to improve low-load burner performance. This allows the burner to run on a lower fuel throughput, reducing operational costs when the vessel is maneuvering.
The nozzle features complex internal channels that optimize particle distribution to render the most effective combustion reaction (burning). These channels are only achievable using AM methods, but laser-based methods can be extremely cost prohibitive. Office friendly, extrusion-based metal 3D printing methods make it easy to produce parts with complex geometries, like internal channels, in house and for a fraction of the cost ($130 with the Studio System+ vs. $1,620 using third-party DMLS).
Due to its excellent corrosion resistance and mechanical properties at high temperatures—like those of a combustion chamber—316L is the most desirable material for the fuel nozzle.
Application Example #2: Impeller for Harsh Environments
An essential component of pumps, impellers control the pressures of the pump and must be designed for the specific application. Impellers require geometrically complex vanes that are designed specifically for the fluid being moved through the pump. These vanes are expensive and difficult to manufacture—requiring access to expensive capital equipment and skilled laborers.
With the ability to print 316L parts in house, design teams can now produce functional prototypes quickly using the same metal material required for the final part. The cost of printing the impeller with the Studio System+ is about $70/part, compared to the nearly $1,000/part with third-party DMLS.
Impellers used in demanding environments—like those of saltwater pumps, cryogenic pumps, and chemical pumps—rely on its corrosion resistance and mechanical properties at a range of temperatures. This makes 316L critical for these applications.
Application Example #3: Medical Finger Splint
Finger splints are a common medical accessory used to immobilize or limit the range of motion of injured limbs. Typically, splints are manufactured using plastic-injection molding, which makes them susceptible to breaking and limits design customization. The ability to print on demand makes it easy to produce custom, better-fitting splints—as well as other medical accessories or components—whose size and shape are specific to the person using it.
Metal splints printed with 316L are more durable and have better mechanical properties, as well as stain resistance and an improved aesthetic finish, compared to the plastic alternative.
316L stainless steel is the second material available for printing parts with the Studio System+. It is one of the six core materials in active development from Desktop Metal—including 17-4PH (available now), Inconel 625, H13 tool steel, Copper, and AISI 4140.