by • January 11, 2016 • No Comments
WASHINGTON: Researchers have developed a new inexpensive method to 3D print metallic objects such as batteries, fuel cells and parts for rockets and airplanes, using rust and metal powders.
While current methods rely on vast metal powder beds and expensive lasers or electron beams, the method developed by Northwestern University in US uses liquid inks and common furnaces, resulting in a cheaper, faster, and additional uniform system.
The method works for an extensive variety of metals, metal mixtures, alloys, and metal oxides, researchers said.
“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 Ramille Shah, assistant professor Northwestern University, who led the study.
Conventional methods for 3D printing metallic structures are both time and cost intensive. The system takes a quite intense energy source, such as a focutilized laser or electron beam, which moves across a bed of metal powder, defining an object’s architecture in a single layer by fusing powder particles together.
New powder is placed on top on the previous layer, and these steps are repeated to create a 3D object. Any unfutilized powder is subsequently removed, which prevents certain architectures, such as those which are hollow and enclosed, of being created.
This method is in addition significantly limited by the types of compatible metals and alloys which can be utilized.
The new method completely bypasses the powder bed and energy beam approach as well as uncouples the two-step system of printing the structure and fusing its layers.
By creating a liquid ink created of metal or mixed metal powders, solvents, and an elastomer binder, Shah was able-bodied to rapidly print densely packed powder structures using a easy syringe-extrusion system, in which ink dispenses through a nozzle, at room temperature.
Despite starting with a liquid ink, the extruded material instantaneously solidifies and fuses with previously extruded material, allowing quite sizeable objects to be rapidly created and immediately handled.
Then, the researchers futilized the powders by heating the structures in a easy furnace in a system called sintering, where powders merge together without melting.
The new method may be utilized for printing batteries, solid-oxide fuel cells, medical implants, and mechanical parts for sizeabler structures, such as rockets and airplanes.
It may in addition be utilized for on-site manufacturing which bypasses the sometimes slow-moving donate chain.
The method can be utilized to print metal oxides, such as iron oxide (rust), which can and so be reduced into metal.
Rust powder is lighter, additional stable-bodied, cheaper, and safer to handle than pure iron powders.
The research was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
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