Earlier this week Markforged introduced the newest metal material for the Metal X — H13 Tool Steel. H13 joins 17-4 PH Stainless Steel as the materials available to over 150 Metal X customers around the world since March 2018.
H13 is a hot-work tool steel, meaning it holds its strength and hardness up to a higher working temperature than most tool steels. Markforged is launching H13 Tool Steel to give people the ability to print high-strength, high-temperature parts.
3D printed H13 Tool Steel is abrasion-resistant at both low and high temperatures. This makes it a great material for parts such as injection molds and extrusion dies. It’s a great choice for much more, such as metal forming tools, dies, and punches for coining and forming operations, or for any application where you require high temperature resistance or a hard wear surface.
H13 is heat treatable up to about 50 HRC. While it’s not the hardest tool steel available, it can resist heat checking and thermal fatigue. It’s often used in cases where hot plastic or metal is being molded and the mold needs to keep its shape while remaining liquid-resistant.
How to Print With H13 Tool Steel?
The process of printing with H13 Tool Steel is essentially the same as printing with 17-4 PH Stainless Steel. You print the part, wash it, and sinter it. The one key difference is heat treatment. With 17-4 PH Stainless Steel, you could take the sintered part and optimize for strength or ductility with a one-step precipitation hardening heat treatment. For H13 Tool Steel, however, we highly recommend using the standard multi-step tool steel heat treatment to fully unlock its hardness and durability. The steps are as follows:
1. Heat the part to 1010-1030C in a furnace, leave for 30 minute to two hours.
2. Air quench the part.
3. Immediately after air cooling, temper at 600C for at least two hours.
- The tempering temperature can be adjusted for hardness levels ranging from 38-50 HRC and should be higher than the maximum working temperature.
- Double tempering is not required, but is recommended especially where heat checking is a problem.
4. Use your part!
H13 is usable without heat treatment with the listed material properties. However, we recommend heat treatment for most applications.
What Does This Mean For My Metal X?
In order to print with H13 Tool Steel, simply unload your current metal spool and load a new spool of H13 into the printer. We have developed H13 Tool Steel to use the same release material as our 17-4 PH Stainless Steel, so you won’t need to change out the release spool. You can head to Eiger, select H13 Tool Steel as your print material, and start the print. Remember to wrap up your other metal spool to use at a later date.
The shipping for H13 Tool Steel will be available from early 2019. Markforged is also releasing a variety of other metals — including A2 and D2 Tool Steel, 316L Stainless Steel, Inconel 625, Copper, and Titanium Ti-6Al-4V in the near future.