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Selective Inhibition Sintering can make Metal 3D Printing Affordable

Metal 3D printing is considered the caviar of additive manufacturing. The metal 3D printers can achieve an extremely high level of detail and the printed pieces are suitable for countless industrial and medical applications. However, a 3D metal printer is expensive to buy and use privately. Fortunately, researchers at the University of California have been working on developing a new 3D printer for metals that could make owning your own metal 3D printer a reality in the near future. 

Currently the technology for metal 3D printing use one of three different production methods that restrict the usage outside industrial levels. The printer either uses an electron beam, laser sintering, or inkjet to print the metal objects. The printers rely on selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS 3D printing) that uses a high-powered accurate laser to graft metal powders together to form the solid forms. 

However, Matthew Petros, Payman Torabi, and Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of California, have developed a peculiar application that uses the inkjet technology for 3D printing metals. The new Selective Inhibition Sintering (SIS) technology uses the retardation method for sintering. SIS technology focuses on preventing selected regions from sintering. The new process treats all the regions that shouldn’t be sintered with an anti-sintering agent and then fuses particles together using an external sintering oven. The SIS process is the opposite of the traditional metal AM process. 

The new SIS technology uses a commercial piezoelectric print head that a liquid chemical solution is deposited around the periphery of the part for each layer. The new technology still uses layers to produce the object, but all the layers irrelevant areas are sprayed. Therefore, each inhibitor deposited on the printed part will decompose into particles that help the sintering process. The technology prevents particles in certain regions from fusing which allows for the removal of the inhibited boundary and reveals the completed part.

The new printer lack of a laser makes the printer more affordable and fall into the range of a desktop or commercially affordable 3D printers. The new technology has other commercial advantage because the process is faster and only the boundary of the part is treated and not the whole part treated. Furthermore, the new printer technology only uses powders that aren’t contaminated by binders or residue. Therefore, this makes your printing issues easier to solve because the objects are being encased in support.

In a few years we will be able to see the new SIS 3D printing technology become a reality. The scientist’s behind the project are working on software and hardware upgrade that will improve the 3D printing process.

Image: flickr.com

Ann Johnston

About Ann Johnston

Ann enjoys writing, reading, gardening, fishing and the great outdoors. Her job has allowed her to travel and live in different countries. She enjoys studying and learning about different cultures.

Ann Johnston

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