Protolabs UK adds cobalt chrome to its AM materials offering

June 11, 2020

Cobalt chrome parts produced by Protolabs UK, with a resolution of 20 µm (Courtesy Protolabs UK)

Protolabs UK, Telford, Shropshire, has added cobalt chrome to its materials offering for metal Additive Manufacturing. Cobalt chrome has a high strength-to-weight ratio, is resistant to heat, wear and corrosion, and has applications in multiple sectors including aerospace, oil & gas and medical. 

Andrea Landoni, 3D Printing Product Manager for Protolabs, stated, “Cobalt chrome is one of the toughest materials known and can be polished to an extremely smooth surface. The advantage of 3D printing is that we can produce any shape that you want, whether it is for an unusual geometry or to save weight.”

Cobalt chrome can reportedly withstand temperatures of up to 600ºC, and its low nickel content gives it excellent biocompatibility, making it ideal for orthopaedic and dental applications. Using Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (LB-PBF) Additive Manufacturing, Protolabs UK states that it can produce very fine resolution parts, down to a minimum feature size and wall thickness of 1 mm.

Landoni added, “One of the problems of cobalt chrome is that it is so hard wearing that it is very difficult to produce parts from it using other processes such as CNC machining. The properties of parts produced by DMLS [LB-PBF] are also equal to or better than those of wrought materials and the process is ideal when the geometry or structure of a part is simply not possible using any other process.”

“The production process is rapid, from uploading the design into our Protoquotes software you will typically get a quote back within a few hours,” she added. “Once approved, the part can then be produced for shipping in as little as a day. When you contrast this to the several days or even weeks quoted by other suppliers, then you can dramatically shorten your development and product lead times.” 

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