Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing

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This is 3D printing using the deposition of metal with MIG welders using standard MIG wire and automated computer controlled motion systems..


  • This is a 3D Printing Method similar to Plastic FDM, but using Metal wire with a MIG welder.
  • MIG welder is fast and cost effective for additive manufacturing of complex geometries.
  • The heat source can be a welder, a laser, or an electric arc typically

OSE Context

Wire arc allows low feestock cost 3D metal printing of large parts. A spool of MIG wire is $1.15/lb in bulk -[1]. This is relevant to 3D printing towers for wind turbines, see 3D Printed Windmill Tower, or 3D printing entire tractor frames.

Mig Welder Cost Calculations

Cost of shielding gas is $9/8 hour shift, about $1/hour. Deposition rates go up to 20 lb per hour. See Welding Deposition Rate. This means one spool is used up per 2 hours. $46 in metal, $2 in gas. So about 4% is shielding gas.

Examples/Industry Standards

  1. Cranfield University is doing work on WAAM. Largest printed part - 6 meters long, 300lb, plain aluminum - [2]. See their presentation - good insight - [3]. They are making real structural parts.
  2. Australian government funds $376k for WAAM - [4]
  3. 3D Printed Bridge - [5]

See Also

Product Development Strategy

  • 1" Universal Axis + Universal Frame + Universal Controller.
  • 3 prototypes in 3 months of full time work we can nail this to product-level
  • considering putting such into our budget surrounding the Seed Home 2
  • Steel angle frame - rapid prototype uses 3D printed corners for holding - then welded together. Essentially - 3D printed corners are a jig for frame build.
  • Use counterweighted platform, and do up to 200 lb prints. Counterweight considers Weight of platform + 100 lb, so 200 lb print would have 100 lb imbalance for safety factor 2 on 200 lb hold of motors. Platform should lift a person.
  • All belts and sensitive parts are fully shielded
  • Water or air cooling for platform as needed, and using insulated platform
  • Hire a competent engineer at $50/hr.
  • Budget - $24k + materials.

Useful Links

  • Welding Wire
  • Welder Wire
  • Laser + TIG setup? - https://www.addere.com/addere-i
  • Electron beam and laser beam can be used - [6]
  • Is hot wire TIG used for 3D printing?
  • TIG additive - Korea - [7]
  • Paper on cold and hot wire TIG - [8]
  • RepRap metal printer with TIG - [9]
  • StrongPrint TIG with wire feed - [10]
  • Review paper on Wire Arc Additive Mfg - WAAM - "The paper concludes that WAAM is a promising alternative to traditional subtractive manufacturing for fabricating large expensive metal components. [11]
  • Companies producing cold weld spray 3d printing - [12]
  • Metal arc from Prodways? - [13]. They call it forging, but it appears to be simple welding with shielding gas (GMAW)
  • WAAM article - [14]