Components made from tool or stainless steels are known for great hardness with a high ductility. Through selective application of alloying components, the material properties can be precisely adjusted. This means that even corrosion-resistant steel alloys like 1.4404 (316L) can be processed using selective laser melting. Applications for corrosion-resistant alloys are found in medical technologies, the automotive industry as well as in aerospace engineering. Tool steel is commonly used to produce tools and molds, and its layered structure enables components to be fitted with integrated cooling canals.
The good mechanical characteristic values of tool and stainless steel make it suitable for use in places that are exposed to heavy strain because its high resistance to wear and tear or surface hardening keep abrasion to a minimum. Steel can also be used at high operating temperatures which reduces the amount of wear and tear on the tools.
Following the SLM-process, steel components exhibit a homogeneous, nearly poreless texture, whereby the mechanical characteristic values lie within the range of the material specifications. Through subsequent post treatment, such as hardening, heat treatment or hot isostatic pressing (HIP), the components’ properties can be adapted to meet specific requirements.