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3D printing in solid metal requires very costly equipment, typically between $200,000 to $850,000 just for the machine. In addition, you’d require special materials to print with and a very expensive furnace to “finalize” prints.

One alternative is to use 3D printer metal filament, which is basically normal filament with some amount of metal added. That means it can be used with a regular desktop FDM printer. Metal filaments come in a variety of materials ranging from copper and bronze to iron and stainless steel.

Resulting prints feel more solid, with a heft you would expect from a solid metal object. And the look is very similar to cast metal when printed. It can also be polished or even caused to “rust”, in the case of iron-filled filament. Post-processing is possible to give a variety of effects.

Note: If you want a filament with actual metal in it, be sure to look for the word “composite” or something stating that it has “metal fill”. Often manufacturers will list a percentage of metal fill, which is also a clear indicator. If it isn’t listed as composite or having metal fill, it probably doesn’t have actual metal in the filament, even if the name does.