An investigator from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute is developing a way to make the results of 3D printing in metal, more robust, but also easier to adapt.
The scientist Diran Apelian, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is working on a 3D printing process able to revolutionize the way products are configured and adapted. Professor of mechanical engineering develops its research in the area of semi-solid metals, using them instead of powdered metals, the manufacture by addition.
Your work can give users manufacturers of this form of production, more metals for use in printing of more robust and enduring objects. Apelian work can also enable manufacturers to create specialized parts for medical devices, as well as for the car industry and aeronautics.
"There are problems with the metal powder", considers the investigator, also director of the Institute of Metal Processing, the WPI. Apelian is collaborating with researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Viridis, a company of Massachusetts LLC 3D (USA), manufacturer of 3D printing machines and software.
Together will also be working with sticky consistency semi-solid metals. Use this material would be a change for the industries using metal powder to make 3D metal printing.
Powdered metals have been associated with several problems. Contain oxides, rust, and factors typically can also result in holes or bubbles in the metal mass, and weakening the final product.
"This is a very negative aspect," says Apelian. "It would be like to have small holes in a sheet of glass, producing spots where where the glass can break. Powders for these high-temperature melting alloys are difficult to make and have a number of oxides, and may not result in robustness ".
Manufacturers also have difficulties in obtaining a wide variety of powdered metals. "Just a few leagues can obtain sufficient quantities," said James Bredt, co-founder of Viridis 3D.
"It's a small market. The manufacturers of these metal powders are huge companies, producing powders for different industries. Most of them do not work in these laser printing machines, "he says. According to the same, are not created to produce high purity material, how much you need for a laser sintering process.
Joe Kempton, an analyst at Canalys, claims to be the first time I heard of semi-solid metals research for 3D printing. And believes that she is able to get around the problems associated with the post.
"It's very interesting," says Kempton. "Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to his own 3D printing is the limited amount of materials with which one can print. Users want a wide variety of high performance alloys or superalloys ", points out.
The reason these industries are seeking this kind of combinations, it has to do with the fact that they have extreme durability and high performance under pressure, and are more resistant to oxidation and corrosion, explains the analyst.