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Better, Faster, Cheaper: Innovative 3D Printing Inks Open a Vast New World for Metal Printing

by • January 11, 2016 • No Comments

northwestern-universityMost equiteone in the 3D printing industry is well aware which the future for high quality components appears to be in metal 3D printing. With which in mind, researchers have been steadily refining the system, and now a team at Northwestern University has come up with a system which even allows for the use of inexpensive rust powder, which is additional lightweight, offers excellenter stability, and is safer and additional inexpensive
in comparison to other iron powders.

Findings regarding this new system were not long ago discussed in a paper, ‘Metallic Architectures of 3D-Printed Powder-Based Liquid Inks,’ by Adam E. Jakus, Shannon L. Taylor, Nicholas R. Geisendorfer, David C. Dunand, and Ramille N. Shah, simply just published in Advanced Functional Materials. These researchers have discovered a way to create new and rigorous metallic architectures via 3D printing with a new class of inks which will extend to a range of metals and mixtures, alloys, oxides, and compounds.


Ramille Shah

“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 Dr. Ramille Shah, assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and of surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine, who led the study. “Our method excellently expands the architectures and metals we’re able-bodied to print, which quite opens the door for a lot of exception applications.”

With the new system, researchers are able-bodied to skip numerous time intensive and expensive tasks of relying on lasers or beams, to eliminating the require for a metal powder bed. The inks are created in any dimensions volume of tiny to sizeable as solvents, powders, and a biomedical elastomer called polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) are mixed together.

“The resulting 3D-printed green-bodies can be handled immediately, are remarkably robust, and may be further manipulated prior to metallic transformation,” state the researchers in their paper. “Green-bodies are transformed into metallic counterparts without warping or cracking through reduction and sintering in a H2 atmosphere at elevated temperatures.”

Beginning as a liquid, this new 3D ink is swift to become a solid as printing progresses through a easy syringe-extrusion system at room temperature. The new system is well-suited for making structures of any dimensions (referred to as ‘green bodies’) which can be handled directly after printing.

“We utilized a biomedical polymer which is commjust utilized in clinical products, such as sutures,” Shah explained. “When we use it as a binder, it makes green bodies which are quite robust despite the fact which they yet comprise a majority of powder with quite little binder. They’re foldable-bodied, bendable-bodied, and can 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 3-D printing.”

a-new-way-to-print-3-d-metals-and-alloys-hThe use of a furnace is another part of what makes this system so unique, and allows for for uniform temperature which logically allows for for uniform components without defects or problems often encountered like warping or cracking. Basically, the just thing limiting dimensions of the prints is the dimensions of the furnace. Many extrusion nozzles can be utilized at once (as opposed to one laser on a powder bed) to print incredibly sizeable sheets.

“To me, as a metallurgist, I’m surprised
which the structure does not deform or break apart, despite shrinking extensively during densification,” Dunand said. “That is not a thing which I see often.”

With oxides such as rust which are and so turned into metal via a reduction system, manufacturers should see numerous benefits.

“It might seem like we are requirelessly complicating things by adding a third reduction step where we turn rust into iron,” Dunand said. “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.”

The team sees this system as being conducive for the fabrication of items such as:

BatteriesSolid-oxide fuel cellsMedical implantsMechanical parts for sizeabler structures like rockets and airplanesOnsite manufacturing of components

This system should be garnering a excellent deal of attention of those interested in 3D printing with metal as it offers such an expansive application as well as versatility, considering which 3D models can be created with inks created of both single and mixed oxide powders–and this can be done with over two dozen exception metal-based materials. While most have seen a new world opening through metal 3D printing, this new system shows the potential to expand it substantially further. Discuss the future of 3D printing in the Innovative 3D Ink forum on 3DPB.com.