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    Proto Labs, Inc.
    5540 Pioneer Creek Dr.
    Maple Plain, MN 55359
    United States

    P: 877.479.3680
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    E: [email protected]

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→ Capabilities
→ Available Alloys
→ Compare Material Properties
→ Surface Finishes
→ Post-Processing
→ Why Metal 3D Printing?

Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is an industrial metal 3D printing process that builds fully functional metal prototypes and production parts in 7 days or less. A range of metals produce final parts that can be used for end-use applications.

Metal 3D printing technology is commonly used for:

  • Prototyping in production-grade materials
  • Complex geometries
  • Functional, end-use parts
  • Reducing metal components in an assembly

We hope you find this guide helpful. If the file did not download, you can find it here.

Jump start your metal 3D printing with this guide that covers material selection, design, post-processing, and quality inspections. 

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Metal 3D Printing Capabilities

Our basic guidelines for metal 3D printing include important design considerations to help improve part manufacturability, enhance cosmetic appearance, and reduce overall production time.

Metal 3D Printing Tolerances

For well-designed parts, tolerances of +0.003 in. (0.076mm) plus 0.1% of nominal length can typically be achieved. Note that tolerances may change depending on part geometry.

Max Dimensions

Layer Thickness

Minimum Feature Size


*At this time, Inconel 718 and Aluminum are the only materials available on our large format, X Line machine

Metal 3D Printing Material Options

Below is our available metal alloys for 3D printing. Various heat treatments are available depending on material.

Stainless Steel (17-4 PH)

Stainless Steel 17-4 PH is a precipitation hardened stainless steel that is known for its hardness and corrosion resistance. If needing a stainless steel option, select 17-4 PH for its significantly higher tensile strength and yield strength, but recognize that it has far less elongation at break than 316L. Final parts built 17-4 PH receive vacuum solution heat treatment as well as H900 aging.

Primary Benefits

  • Heat treated for full hardness and strength
  • Corrosion resistance


Stainless Steel (316L)

Stainless steel 316L is a workhorse material used for manufacturing acid and corrosion resistant parts. Select 316L when stainless steel flexibility is needed; 316L is a more malleable material compared to 17-4 PH. Final parts built in 316L receive stress relief application.

Primary Benefits

  • Acid and corrosion resistance
  • High ductility


Aluminum (AlSi10Mg)

Aluminum (AlSi10Mg) is comparable to a 3000 series alloy that is used in casting and die casting processes. It has good strength -to-weight ratio, high temperature and corrosion resistance, and good fatigue, creep and rupture strength. AlSi10Mg also exhibits thermal and electrical conductivity properties. Final parts built in AlSi10Mg receive stress relief application.

Primary Benefits

  • High stiffness and strength relative to weight
  • Thermal and electrical conductivity


Inconel 718

Inconel is a high strength, corrosion resistant nickel chromium superalloy ideal for parts that will experience extreme temperatures and mechanical loading. Final parts built in Inconel 718 receive stress relief application. Solution and aging per AMS 5663 is also available to increase tensile strength and hardness.

Primary Benefits

  • Oxidation and corrosion resistance
  • High performance tensile, fatigue, creep, and rupture strength


Cobalt Chrome (Co28Cr6Mo)

Cobalt Chrome (Co28Cr6Mo)​ is a superalloy is known for its high strength-to-weight ratio.

Primary Benefits

  • High performance tensile and creep
  • Corrosion resistance


Titanium (Ti6Al4V)

Titanium (Ti6Al4V) is a workhorse alloy. Versus Ti grade 23 annealed, the mechanical properties of Ti6Al4V are comparable to wrought titanium for tensile strength, elongation, and hardness. Final parts built in Ti6Al4V receive vacuum stress relief application.

Primary Benefits​

  • High stiffness and strength relative to weight
  • High temperature and corrosion resistance


Compare Material Properties

20 μm = high resolution (HR)
30, 40, and 60 μm = normal resolution (NR)

  • US
  • Metric

Materials Resolution Condition Ultimate Tensile Strength
Yield Stress
Stainless Steel
(17-4 PH)
20 μm Solution & Aged (H900) 199 178 10 42 HRC
30 μm Solution & Aged (H900) 198 179 13 42 HRC
Stainless Steel
20 μm Stress Relieved 82 56 78 90 HRB
30 μm Stress Relieved 85 55 75 88 HRB
20 μm Stress Relieved 39 26 15 42 HRB
30 μm Stress Relieved 50 33 8 59 HRB
40 μm Stress Relieved 43 27 10 50 HRB
Cobalt Chrome
20 μm As Built 182 112 17 39 HRC
30 μm As Built 176 119 14 38 HRC
Inconel 718 20 μm Stress Relieved 143 98 36 33 HRC
30 μm Stress Relieved 144 91 39 30 HRC
30 μm Solution & Aged per AMS 5663 208 175 18 46 HRC
60 μm Stress Relieved 139 83 40 27 HRC
60 μm Solution & Aged per AMS 5663 201 174 19 45 HRC
20 μm Stress Relieved 153 138 15 35 HRC
30 μm Stress Relieved 144 124 18 33 HRC

Materials Resolution Condition Ultimate Tensile Strength
Yield Stress
Stainless Steel
(17-4 PH)
20 μm Solution & Aged (H900) 1,372 1,227 10 42 HRC
30 μm Solution & Aged (H900) 1,365 1,234 13 42 HRC
Stainless Steel
20 μm Stress Relieved 565 386 78 90 HRB
30 μm Stress Relieved 586 379 75 88 HRB
20 μm Stress Relieved 268 180 15 46 HRB
30 μm Stress Relieved 345 228 8 59 HRB
40 μm Stress Relieved 296 186 10 50 HRB
Cobalt Chrome
20 μm As Built 1255 772 17 39 HRC
30 μm As Built 1213 820 14 38 HRC
20 μm Precipitation Hardened 496 434 23 87 HRB
Inconel 718 20 μm Stress Relieved 986 676 36 33 HRC
30 μm Stress Relieved 993 627 39 30 HRC
30 μm Solution & Aged per AMS 5663 1434 1207 18 46 HRC
60 μm Stress Relieved 958 572 40 27 HRC
60 μm Solution & Aged per AMS 5663 1386 1200 19 45 HRC
20 μm Stress Relieved 1055 951 15 35 HRC
30 μm Stress Relieved 993 855 18 33 HRC

These figures are approximate and dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to, machine and process parameters. The information provided is therefore not binding and not deemed to be certified. When performance is critical, also consider independent lab testing of additive materials or final parts.

Surface Finish Options

Standard Finish

Expect roughness values of 200 to 400 µin Ra (0.005 to 0.010mm Ra), depending on material and resolution. Support structures are removed and layer lines are visible.

Custom Finish

We offer brushed surfaces in a range of grits and polished mirror finishes. Be sure to indicate if the custom surface finish is for functional or aesthetic purposes so we can best consult you on our custom options.

Post-Processing Capabilities for Metal 3D-Printed Parts

Improve strength, dimensional accuracy, and cosmetic appearance of final metal components with DMLS for production.

Surface Finishing

  • 3- and 5-axis milling
  • Turning
  • Polish (Mirror or Brushed)
  • Passivation
  • Wire EDM
  • Tapping and reaming

Heat Treatments

  • Stress relief
  • NADCAP heat treatment
  • Hot isostatic pressing (HIP)
  • Solution annealing
  • Aging

Mechanical Testing

  • Tensile
  • Rockwell Hardness

Powder Analysis & Material

  • Traceability
  • Chemistry
  • Particle size and distribution analysis

Why Use Metal 3D Printing?

See how metal additive manufacturing technology can be used to reduce components within an assembly, fabricate complex geometries, and ultimately save you time and costs.

Click to enlarge

How Does Metal 3D Printing Work?

The DMLS machine begins sintering each layer—first the support structures to the base plate, then the part itself—with a laser aimed onto a bed of metallic powder. After a cross-section layer of powder is micro-welded, the build platform shifts down and a recoater blade moves across the platform to deposit the next layer of powder into an inert build chamber. The process is repeated layer by layer until the build is complete.

When the build finishes, an initial brushing is manually administered to parts to remove a majority of loose powder, followed by the appropriate heat-treat cycle while still fixtured in the support systems to relieve any stresses. Parts are removed from the platform and support structures are removed from the parts, then finished with any needed bead blasting and deburring. Final DMLS parts are near 100 percent dense.

Large Format Metal 3D Printing

We recently added the GE Additive X Line to our fleet of metal 3D printers to build large Inconel 718 and Aluminum (AlSi10Mg) parts. Have a project that might be a good fit? Contact us and we can discuss your requirements.

Learn More >

Metal 3D Printing for Production

Improve strength, dimensional accuracy, and cosmetic appearance for end-use metal components with post-processing options like CNC machining and heat treatments.

Learn More >


Design Tip

Post-Processing for Metal 3D Printing

Learn how to improve dimensional accuracy, surface roughness, and mechanical properties on metal parts with high-requirement applications.

Read Design Tip

White Paper

Combining Part Assemblies with Additive Manufacturing to Reduce Cost and Increase Performance

How to find the right opportunities to consolidate multi-part assemblies into single components with industrial 3D printing

Read White Paper


Inconel 718: A Workhorse Material for Additive Manufacturing

Inconel 718 is a go-to material for additive manufacturing of metal parts.

Read Blog


Large Format 3D Printing for Aluminum and Inconel Parts

When you’re printing really large parts in metal, it’s great to have a choice of materials. Aluminum and Inconel 718 both make a lot of sense, but which one is the best for your application?

Read Blog

Instant quotes on 3D-printed parts

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Direct Metal Laser Sintering [DMLS] Parts On Demand

Direct Metal Laser Sintering [DMLS] Parts On Demand - Stratasys

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What Is Direct Metal Laser Sintering?

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is a direct metal laser melting (DMLM) or laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology that accurately forms complex geometries not possible with other metal manufacturing methods.

DMLS Part Strength

DMLS parts are stronger and denser than investment casted metal parts, and they can help you get to market first with faster turnaround times.

Metal 3D printing is an ideal process for complex oil and gas components, custom medical guides, part-consolidated aerospace parts and tough functional prototypes.

Streamlined Metal Parts with DMLS


Utilize the design freedom of DMLS and produce accurate metal components in less time than other manufacturing methods.


How Does Direct Metal Laser Sintering Work?

DMLS uses a precise, high-wattage laser to micro-weld powdered metals and alloys to form fully functional metal components from your CAD model.

DMLS parts are made with powdered materials like aluminum, stainless steel and titanium, as well as niche alloys like MONEL® K500 and Nickel Alloy 718.

Finishing DMLS Parts

Raw DMLS parts have a surface finish comparable to a fine investment casting part, and expert finishing services are sometimes needed.

Stratasys Direct offers a full suite of professional finishing operations, including precision machining, media blasting, surface grinders and milling.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering Quality Controls

To maintain critical quality control standards, we use a range of tools to inspect and ensure customer specifications. With international certification standards ISO 9001 and AS9100, we have stringent systems in place to guarantee quality and consistently are met.

We utilize tools like coordinate measuring machines, probes, cutup metallography processes and flow benches, hydrostatic pressure testing machines to guarantee quality is consistently met. DMLS materials build fully dense, corrosive resistant and highly robust metal parts that can be further treated through heat, coating and sterilization.

DMLM Products


  • The fastest way to manufacture with DMLM technology
  • Produce geometries with high-strength metal alloys in one fluid build
  • Hand-finishing with media blast
  • Manufacture in Stainless Steel 316L or 17-4, Aluminum (AlSi10Mg), Cobalt Chrome, Nickel Alloy 625, and Titanium (Ti64)


M.P. Specification
  • No spec? No problem! Our Additive Metal Process Spec provides production metal parts with DMLM technology

Customer Specification

  • Adhering to customer-provided statement of work and process, material, and/or machine specifications. The ultimate level of control for your project and product

DMLM Discover

We’re ready to take on any challenge and push the boundaries of what’s possible with DMLM Discover – our custom solution for new and novel additive alloys and designs.

  • Access materials in the early stages of development for DMLM
  • Test custom manufacturing parameters for your project


Materials for 3D Printing Parts with DMLS

Stainless Steel 17-4 PH (As Built)

SS17-4PH is characterized by excellent weld-ability, good corrosion resistance, and mechanical properties

Learn more

Stainless Steel 316L (As Built)

SS316L is characterized by very good weld-ability, corrosion resistance, and mechanical properties including excellent ductility.  

Learn more

Aluminum AlSi10Mg (As Built)

Casting grade alloy

Learn more

Nickel Alloy 625 (As Built)

Nickel based superalloy

Learn more

Nickel Alloy 718 (As Built)

High strength nickel base superalloy

Learn more

Nickel Alloy K500 (As Built)

Age-hardenable Nickel-Copper alloy

Learn more

Titanium Ti64 (As Built)

Titanium alloy

Learn more

Cobalt Chrome CoCrMo (As Built)

Metal alloy of cobalt and chromium

Learn more

Metal 3D Printing Applications of DMLS


Produce low-volume production metals parts with DMLS.

Read More



Functional Prototyping

Build tough and hardworking metal prototypes to test components in real-world applications.

Read More



Thermal Control Systems

Advance your thermal management capabilities with complex heat exchangers and heat pipes manufactured with DMLS.


DMLS Parts from 3D Printing Pioneers

 Making a quality 3D printed part takes more than just a machine. It takes a responsive team behind the technology, running tests and working tirelessly to validate materials and processes.

At Stratasys Direct, our services are backed by more than the largest fleet of machines in North America; we have nearly thirty years in the industry and a team of engineers ready to assist with every step of your project.

DMLS Expertise You Can Trust

Years of experience with DMLS has led us to develop proprietary build styles, post-processing methods, and even led us into material development exploration.

Whatever your project need, we won’t rest until your requirements are met.


Frequently Asked Questions About DMLS

 Are DMLS parts as strong as traditionally manufactured metal components?

Yes. The parts created with DMLS have mechanical properties equivalent to a cast metal part. Detailed information can be found on the DMLS materials page.

What is the porosity of DMLS parts?

DMLS parts can reach a 99.5% density. In fact, 3D printed metals are above industry standards for density testing.

What level of detail can be obtained with DMLS?

DMLS is available in several resolutions. At its highest resolution, the layer thickness is 0.0008” – 0.0015” Z and the X/Y resolution is 0.012” – 0.016”.

The minimum hole diameter is 0.035” – 0.045”. Read the DMLS design guidelines to learn more.


3D printing in metal - 3D printers


I was wondering about metal 3D printing (steel, aluminium), but after a short search on Google, I found only too expensive printers (markforged, desktop metal and a few other industrial ). Is there any less expensive printer on the market that can print metal parts?

@Martin Bariak, 👍11