A few people are working on metal powder sintering at lower price points, but I haven't seen any massive progress in that space lately.
[a friend works there]
The main hurdle here is the quality of the processing from the green part to the final part. BASF provides it as a service, you print the green part then ship it to them for processing in the same plant that does the processing for the metal injection molded parts. This takes a couple weeks to get your part back.
I evaluated both the BASF and virtual foundry materials and processes for use in my product design consultancy and found that neither provided a significant benefit over other 3d metal printing options (sls, investment casting of a 3d print, etc).
I have full rolls of several of the virtual foundry materials as well as the BASF SS material if anyone is interested in experimenting more.
I really wanted these materials to be more useful than they have turned out to be in relation to product design.
For a hobbyist, I'd expect these could be a problem:
* Lasers that can melt metal are expensive and dangerous.
* Optics for such high powers are also expensive.
* Atmosphere control is a must, you don't want oxygen near metal powder under a laser.
I think at this point it would be better to start your own company and earn money from it, it seems a bit much for a fun garage project.
EDIT: There was a hobbyist project for an electron beam 3d printer posted to HN some time ago, maybe that would be more achievable (at least the beam shuts down itself if air enters the working area. The potential for implosion seems nasty though).
...in the picture with the furnace, what role does the mayonnaise play?
A blind guess: the original filament has a resin to make the metal powder flow, that becomes viscous at certain temperatures. Perhaps this resin could be volatile and evaporate at temperatures below its viscous temperature.
Or maybe it could be quickly burned off by supplying extra oxygen (so that burning temperature isn't high and there's not enough time for the piece to deform).
In any case you could probably introduce some kind of automatic software correction for the deformation to the piece. As noted in the article this has some limitations/drawbacks, like limiting some geometries you can achieve (and requiring careful knowledge/control of your process).
The low percentage basically puts plenty of metal into contact with other metal. This tends to hang together fairly well.
There is a process shrink, and it can be something on the order of 20 percent.
The 3D printed "Green" part is actually substantial. It can be machined, polished, drilled, etc...
One trouble area is support materials. Putting filament containing metal onto a support filament, like HIPS, can work. HIPS on top of metal generally doesn't.
One can use the same base polymer for both over and under support, but that can be difficult to remove. Often the metal filament itself is used. This is messy, can be difficult, but does generally work for most geometries.
The metal part can "wick" other metals during sintering too. Making a bronze with a copper "green" part with the other metal present in the oven works better than one might think.
I have yet to find a great use, other than art pieces and or simple metal shapes that could be machined at lower cost and difficulty.
Carbon fiber 3d printing, though, is starting to work as a low-end process. Some filament type 3D printers can do it, if they have hardened steel parts near the nozzle. Dimensional stability is better than most 3D printed plastics.
I wonder if the porous bronze part could be solidified by wicking another (molten) metal into it, the way Bathsheba Grossman’s sculptures are first printed in stainless steel powder, sintered and burned out as in this process, and then infused with molten bronze.
Obvious metals to try to solidify bronze in this way would be tin, zinc, lead, and (if you can somehow control oxidation) aluminum. Cadmium or mercury might also work but are attended with difficulties that probably make them impractical.
I sampled such filament and it is just flexible enough to be useful.
IMHO, lost PLA is more efficient and less difficult. There are other materials that can be used for casting that have very low ash and print and can be smoothed with isopropyl alcohol most baths.
These are proving robust, but the material has a narrow operating band. Printing requires high degrees of process control.
Polymaker PolyCast 3D Printer Filament, 2.85mm
For child comment as I hit the annoying post limit. :D
And I do not care much. Their show.
Works both ways too. My investment is limited at any time too. So, take it, leave it, meh
No real worries, other than the occasional bump in the road.