In the early days of 3-D printing, it took several steps to “print” a metal part. If you wanted to print a gold ring, for example, you had to follow these steps . . .
- Step one: You used computer-aided design (CAD) to design the ring you wanted to make. Or if you had a ring that you wanted to copy, you scanned it to create a digital model of it to be used in your printer.
- Step two: You used a 3-D printer to make a plastic model of the ring.
- Step three: You used that plastic model to make a mold.
- Step four: You then used that mold to cast the ring you wanted.
That was a lot of steps. In those early days, why couldn’t you just design your ring and then use a 3-D printer to print your ring in gold, not plastic? That’s a pretty good question.
The answer is that in those early days, commercial-grade 3-D printers that could print metal items had not yet been developed. Today, that has changed. If you have a metal object and you would like a copy of it in metal, there are plenty of companies online that can make one for you. (You upload your CAD design and those companies print it and send you the finished part.)
What Does This All Mean for Precious Metals?
It could mean more for precious metals investors than you might think, for a very simple reason . . .
The demand for gold and silver metal printing powders is increasing
We are writing about the powders that are loaded into 3-D printers that bond together to create 3-D “prints” of objects. If you want to print that gold ring that we mentioned above, for example, you would load specialized gold powder into your 3-D printer, where it would be used to produce the ring.
Why can’t you simply grind up gold or silver and load it into a 3-D printer? There are several reasons . . .
- Metallic 3-D printing powders must be extremely pure. If they are not, a defective product is likely to result.
- Powders must be extremely fine in texture. If they are not, individual pieces of the metal powder can fail to adhere to each other.
- Individual pieces of powder must be perfectly spherical in shape. That allows the powder to flow smoothly through the printer and produce perfect prints.
As the demand for those specialized printing powders grows, so will the demand for scrap gold and silver that will be needed to make them.
The market for high-grade metal powders is poised for growth, and this could be a good time to refine your gold and silver scrap. Will you be ready? To learn more, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss your refining options.