by • January 11, 2016 • No Comments
Jan 12, 2016 | By Kira
A team of Northwestern Engineers has developed a new method for 3D printing metal which uses liquid inks and a easy syringe-extrusion technique, much like a regular 3D printer, yet with the skill to create rigorous and additional uniform architectures than previously possible in metal 3D printing. By replacing intense energy sources such as lasers or electron beams, the system is in addition much bargain-priceder and faster, and works with a much wider variety of metals, alloys, metal mixtures and metal oxides, which include potentially the bargain-pricedest of them all: rust.
We may already understand which metal powders are the fastest-growing segment with in the 3D printing materials market, and which 3D printing with metal offers a range of highly-sought out characteristics, which include huge durablity, reduced mass, biocompatibility and corrosion or thermal resistance, making it ideal for high-demand industries such as aerospace, medical, and additional.
But, current metal 3D printing systemes aren’t precisely ideal in and of themselves. As Northwestern explains, conventional methods require focusing a quite intense energy source, such as a laser or electron beam, across a bed of metal powder, fusing the powder particles together in a pre-determined pattern to create the final 3D structure. While this method does allow for amazingly sturdy metal 3D structures to be produced, it has his drawbacks. Mainly: it is prohibitively expensive and time consuming; it does not allow for certain types of architectures, such as those which are hollow and enclosed; and it is limited by the types of compatible metals and alloys which can be utilized.
Current metal 3D printing systemes
Northwestern’s novel method for rapid metal 3D printing, yet, promises to be bargain-priceder, faster, and open the doors to entirely new metal materials and structural possibilities. It does so by eliminating the powder bed and energy beam approach, and by uncoupling the two-step system of printing the structure and and so fusing its layers.
Instead of the powder bed, Northwestern’s team created liquid inks created of metal or mixed metal powders, solvents, and an elastomer binder. This ink can and so be rapidly extruded at room temperature through a nozzle, simply like on a regular 3D printer. Once extruded, the liquid inks solidify instantaneously as each layer fuses with the last, allowing dimensionsable-bodied objects to be rapidly created and, since they haven’t yet been heated, immediately handled.
The 2nd step is to fuse the powders by heating the may already-formed 3D structure in a easy furnace. This system is understandn as sintering, as the powders are permanently merged without in fact being melted. “By uncoupling the printing and the sintering, it appears which we have complex the system,” said David Dunand, a James N. and Margie M. Krebs professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “But, in fact, it has liberated us as each step is much simpler separately than the combined approach.”
In addition to being a additional rapid and cost-effective solution, the new metal 3D printing system in fact allows for for additional sophisticated and uniform architectures to be created than what was previously possible with metal 3D printing.
More complex architectures can be created thanks to the use of biomedical polymers, which allow the 3D object to be highly foldable-bodied and bendable-bodied preceding it is in fact heated–in this stage, it is understandn as a ‘green body’. They can in addition be hundreds of layers thick without crumbling. “Other binders don’t give those properties to resulting 3D printed objects. Ours can be manipulated preceding being fired. It allows for us to create a lot of exception architectures which haven’t quite been seen in metal 3D printing,” explained Ramille Shah, assistant professor of Materials and Science Engineering and leader of the study.
Professors Ramille Shah and David Dunand
Secondly, in traditional metal 3D printing, the layer-by-layer laser-heating approach can create localized heating and cooling stresses, resulting in undesirable-bodied microstructures and flaws in the finished object. But, heating the entire ‘green body’ at once within a furnace ensures uniform temperature and densified structures which sinter without warping or cracking.
“To me, as a metallurgist, I’m astonished which the structure does not deform or break apart, despite shrinking extensively during densification,” said Dunand. “That is not a thing which I see often.”
And since most extrusion nozzles can be utilized at one time rather than a single laser being utilized for an entire powder bed, dimensionsable-bodied sheets up to a few meters wide can rapidly be 3D printed and folded into 3D structures—the just limitation is the dimensions of the furnace.
If all of this—faster, bargain-priceder, dimensionsable-bodiedr, additional uniform, and additional rigorous 3D printed metal structures didn’t may already seem too great to be true, the Northwestern researchers discovered yet another novel use for their system: it can be utilized to 3D print with metal oxides, such as rust, by reducing it into metal. While rust is usually seen as undesirable-bodied, particularly if you are a car-owner, rust powder is in fact lighter, additional stable-bodied, bargain-priceder and safer to handle than pure iron powders.
With this new system, the researchers may 3D printing with rust and other metallic oxides, and and so use hydrogen to turn the ‘green bodies’ into the respective metal preceding heating and merging the powders within the furnace. “It might seem like we are needlessly complicating things by adding a third reduction step where we turn rust into iron,” said Dunand. “But this opens up possibilities for using quite bargain-priced oxide powders rather than corresponding expensive metal powders. It’s hard to find a thing bargain-priceder than rust.”
This novel metal 3D printing system can be utilized to 3D print batteries, solid-oxide fuel cells, medical implants, aerospace and aircraft parts, and much additional, thus representing an important step towards some day mainstreaming metal 3D printing.
“This is amazing for the reason most advanced manufacturing methods being utilized for metallic printing are limited as far as which metals and alloys can be printed and what types of architecture can be created,” said Shah. “Our method greatly expands the architectures and metals we’re able-bodied to print, which quite opens the door for a lot of exception applications.”
The research was published in a paper for the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Postdoctoral man Adam Jakus, graduate student Shannon L. Taylor, and undergraduate Nicholas R. Geisendorfer co-authored the paper.
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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