What Is Binder Jetting In 3D Printing?

What Is Binder Jetting In 3D Printing

Are you navigating the choices in 3D printing technology? Binder jetting may be your answer, enabling cost-efficient production with a multitude of materials. Recognised for its production speed and adaptability, this technique is altering manufacturing dynamics by fabricating intricate parts that have been traditionally difficult to create. Delve into the operational mechanics of binder jetting, its industrial benefits, and why it could be a game-changer for your production needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Binder jetting is a versatile 3D printing process innovated by MIT in 1993, using a liquid binding agent to join powdered material layer by layer, enabling the production of complex parts with minimal waste and support structures.
  • The process is compatible with a wide range of materials, including metals, ceramics, and plastics, catering to various industries such as automotive and aerospace to create prototypes, end-use parts, and large sand-casting molds with faster production speeds.
  • While binder jetting allows for high-volume production and presents environmental benefits with recyclable materials, parts often require post-processing, such as sintering or infiltration, to improve mechanical properties and finish quality.

What is Binder Jetting?

Illustration of binder jetting process

Binder jetting is a unique 3D printing process that plays a significant role in additive manufacturing. Originally developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993, it’s a process that bonds powdered materials layer by layer with the selective application of a binding fluid. The first commercial metal binder jetting 3D printer, the RTS-300, was launched in 1998, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of this technology.

This technology is a testament to the ingenuity of modern engineering. By utilising a liquid binding agent, binder jetting machines can create complex parts in metal and other materials. This distinguishes binder jetting from other 3D printing processes such as selective laser sintering, which requires more energy and time to melt and fuse material.

How does binder jetting work?

The binder jetting process includes the following steps:

  1. Spreading a fine layer of powder material over the build platform, often with a roller or a recoating blade.
  2. A print head, similar to those found in inkjet printers, moves along the X and Y axes above the powder bed, depositing binder adhesive only where the part is to be built.
  3. After each layer of binder is added, the build platform lowers by a predetermined layer thickness.
  4. This makes way for a new powder layer and binder for the next level of the part.

During this process, the object being printed is supported by the surrounding unbound powder, eliminating the need for additional support structures. Once the printing is complete, the part is left to cure to gain strength, and any excess powder is removed, typically using pressurised air, to finalise the print. This unique additive manufacturing process enables the creation of complex geometries that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional manufacturing techniques.

What is binder jetting 3D printing?

Binder jetting 3D printing is a versatile additive manufacturing process that allows for the creation of parts with varied properties and capabilities. Unlike some other additive manufacturing methods, binder jetting does not involve the melting of the print material, which allows it to work with a broader range of materials.

Moreover, binder jetting can produce parts at a higher speed compared to methods like stereolithography (SLA) and laser sintering (SLS/SLM/DMLS). It’s used to create full-color prototypes, end-use parts, and large components such as sand-casting molds. The automotive industry, for example, employs binder jetting for creating both prototype models and end-use parts. It also facilitates the creation of components with unique properties, such as lightweight aerospace parts with complex internal structures.

Materials Compatible with Binder Jetting

Metal binder jetting systems

One of the key strengths of binder jetting is its compatibility with a diverse range of materials. Whether you’re working with:

  • metals like stainless steel and titanium
  • ceramics
  • different plastics
  • sand

Binder jetting can accommodate your manufacturing needs. This flexibility opens up a world of possibilities, allowing for the creation of complex geometries, potential cost reductions, and a wide range of applications across various industries.

Metal Binder Jetting Systems

Metal binder jetting systems use their namesake materials to create components that are both strong and lightweight. Through a layer-by-layer printing process, these systems can produce parts with a level of precision and versatility that is virtually unheard of in traditional manufacturing methods. By depositing a thin layer of material in each pass, companies like Desktop Metal are leading the way in this field, developing technologies such as Single Pass Jetting (SPJ), a cornerstone of their metal 3D printing systems.

Digital Metal has also made significant strides in this arena, with their high-precision binder jetting technology enabling the production of small and complex metal components, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with binder jetting applications. The success of metal binder jetting systems can be attributed, in part, to their compatibility with well-known Metal Injection Molding (MIM) powders, which are relatively economical. Collaborations such as that between Ford and ExOne have further expanded the material range for binder jetting, achieving a production-repeatable process for binder jetting with aluminium 6061.

Non-metal Materials

But binder jetting isn’t limited to metal. Non-metal materials such as ceramics, polymers, and sand also find a place in this innovative additive manufacturing process. Ceramic parts, for instance, are made from materials like alumina, zirconia, and silicon carbide for the production of tiles, sanitary ware, and insulators.

In industries like automotive, medical, and consumer goods, plastics such as polyamide, polypropylene, and polycarbonate are utilized to create a variety of components. Further, the combination of sand and various binders like furan, silicate, and phenolic in binder jetting enables the creation of moulds and cores for use in foundry casting. This wide application range speaks volumes about the versatility of binder jetting.

Advantages and Limitations of Binder Jetting

While binder jetting offers numerous advantages and opportunities, like any technology, it has its own set of limitations. It’s important to understand these factors to fully leverage the benefits of this technology and mitigate any potential drawbacks.


One of the key advantages of binder jetting is its ability to handle high-volume production. This makes it an ideal solution for large-scale manufacturing needs. Furthermore, compared to other 3D printing technologies, binder jetting achieves faster production times due to its layer-based binding process.

The environmental benefits of binder jetting also merit attention. Minimal waste generation, as the unused powder can be recycled for future prints, is one of its eco-friendly aspects. Moreover, the technology reduces manufacturing complexity as it can produce parts in a single step, saving costs on assembly. These benefits make binder jetting a cost-effective and green manufacturing solution.


However, binder jetting is not without its limitations. For instance, parts made using this process initially exhibit high porosity, which can compromise their mechanical properties such as strength, fracture, and fatigue resistance. The inherent porosity before post-processing may result in parts that are brittle and not suitable for high-strength applications.

To mitigate these effects and improve part robustness, post-processing steps, such as sintering or infiltration, are often necessary. Infiltration involves introducing a secondary material into the pores of the part to increase strength and may be applied to materials like ceramics and plastics, while sintering helps enhance the final density of metal parts.

Post-Processing Techniques for Binder Jetting

Sintering process in binder jetting

Post-processing plays a critical role in achieving the desired strength, density, and appearance of binder jetted parts. This involves several techniques, including:

  • Cleaning
  • Sintering
  • Infiltration
  • Finishing

Sintering Process

The sintering process forms a crucial part of post-processing in metal binder jetting. This involves:

  1. Heating the printed metal part to a high temperature to melt and agglomerate the powder particles.
  2. Resulting in dense and resistant components, crucial for their durability and functionality.
  3. The goal of sintering is to reduce the porosity of the parts and fuse the metal particles, enhancing their strength.

However, sintering is not without its challenges. During the process, parts may suffer from the following issues:

  • Accuracy and tolerance issues due to significant shrinkage, which on average can be around 20%.
  • Non-uniform shrinkage, leading to inaccuracies.
  • Friction during sintering, causing warping and deformation, especially in unsupported areas of the part.

Despite these challenges, advances continue to be made, as seen with HP’s development of advanced binding agent technology to improve sintering efficiency and productivity for metal parts.

Infiltration and Finishing

In addition to sintering, infiltration is another post-processing technique used to improve the mechanical properties of binder jetted parts. It often involves the use of a secondary metal with a lower melting point to improve mechanical properties.

Moreover, finishing processes are part of post-processing to improve the surface appearance and functionality of the printed parts. The surface finishes attainable with binder jetting technology can be as low as 4µm Ra, providing a smooth and professional finish. These techniques underscore the importance of post-processing in enhancing the quality and performance of binder jetted parts.

Binder Jetting Applications and Industries


Binder jetting applications in various industries

Binder jetting finds application in a broad spectrum of industries, including:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Biomedical

Binder jetting serves as a transformative technology, redefining the way we manufacture and design.

What is binder jetting used for?

Binder jetting is utilised for the creation of full-colour prototypes. It is also used for producing low-cost metal parts and large sand-casting cores and moulds. For instance, companies like Schneider Electric and John Deere utilise HP’s Metal Jet technology for creating complex metal parts. The ability to produce parts directly from CAD files streamlines the prototyping process, eliminating traditional patterns and core boxes in foundries, as seen with ExOne’s printers.

Innovative uses of binder jetting extend into various industries, including:

  • Culinary industry: creating complex sugar structures
  • Automotive and consumer sectors: full additive manufacturing solutions
  • Manufacturing: low-cost metal parts, large sand-casting cores, and moulds

Binder jetting is proving to be an indispensable tool for industrial applications.

Prominent Manufacturers and Machines

Several manufacturers and machines are leading the charge in binder jetting technology. Some of the major companies in this field include:

  • ExOne, which obtained an exclusive license for the binder jetting method of additive manufacturing in 1996
  • HP, which has launched its binder jetting solutions
  • Desktop Metal, which has also developed its binder jetting technology

These companies are at the forefront of advancing binder jetting technology in the additive manufacturing industry, utilising the latest additive manufacturing technologies.

Desktop Metal’s Production System P-50 is tailored for the mass production of high-quality metal parts, reflecting advanced developments in binder jetting capabilities. HP’s Metal Jet S100 Solution, with its integrated workflow and subscription service, is designed to enable continuous mass production of metals. The commercialisation of HP’s Metal Jet S100 Solution signals a trend towards adopting 3D printing in mainstream metal production.

Future Developments and Trends in Binder Jetting

Future trends in binder jetting

As we look to the horizon, the future of binder jetting is undeniably bright. With emerging technologies, market growth, and increased adoption in mainstream manufacturing, binder jetting is poised for a promising future.

Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies in the field of binder jetting are breaking new ground. Companies like Digital Metal and Desktop Metal are enhancing metal binder jetting with new levels of automation and high-speed production capabilities. 3DEO’s Intelligent Layering technology, for instance, combines binder jetting and CNC milling to create highly dense, precision metal parts.

HP’s Thermal Inkjet printhead technology has accelerated the binder jetting process, significantly advancing production speeds. New binder jetting technologies are paving the way for manufacturing parts that are not only complex but also lightweight and material-efficient, promoting sustainability.

The research into multi-material binder jetting aims to produce parts with varied properties in one build, enhancing performance capabilities for diverse applications.

Market Outlook

The market outlook for binder jetting is optimistic. Here are some key statistics:

  • The global binder jetting technology market size was valued at GBP 74.4 million in 2022
  • It is expected to reach GBP 207.94 million by 2031
  • The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.3%

Binder jetting has the capacity to transform traditional manufacturing by leveraging 3D printing’s benefits on a larger scale, due to its rapid production capabilities and versatility in materials.

North America currently leads the binder jetting technology market, driven by significant industrial growth and rising demand across sectors such as aerospace, automotive, and medical. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s temporary impact on the industry, demand for binder jetting technology is returning to pre-pandemic levels, indicating a robust recovery and ongoing market demand.


To sum up, binder jetting is a transformative technology that holds immense promise in the realm of additive manufacturing. With its ability to work with a diverse range of materials, produce complex parts at high speeds, and generate minimal waste, binder jetting is revolutionising the manufacturing landscape.

However, like any technology, it’s not without its challenges. The high porosity of binder jetted parts and the need for post-processing steps to enhance part strength are key areas that require attention. Despite these hurdles, with continuous advancements and the emergence of new technologies, the future of binder jetting looks promising.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who uses binder jetting?

Binder jetting is used by various industries such as construction, aerospace, and the arts due to its ability to use materials like sand, metals, composites, and ceramics.

What is the difference between binder jetting and Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)?

The main difference between binder jetting and FFF is that binder jetting deposits a binder onto a bed of metal powder layer by layer, while FFF involves metal powder bound with a polymer and then melted and extruded.

What materials are compatible with binder jetting?

Binder jetting is compatible with a wide range of materials, including various metals, ceramics, plastics, and sand, offering versatility in material options for 3D printing.

What are the advantages and limitations of binder jetting?

Binder jetting offers advantages such as high-volume production, faster production times, minimal waste, and reduced manufacturing complexity. However, it comes with limitations including high porosity, brittleness, and the need for post-processing to improve part strength.

What is the future outlook for binder jetting?

The future outlook for binder jetting is positive, with an expected market growth of 11.3% from 2022 to 2031, driven by increased demand in industries like aerospace, automotive, and medical.

25th March 2024

3D Printing