Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chinese scientists unveil liquid phase 3-D printing method using low melting metal alloy ink

30.09.2014

Three-dimensional metal printing technology is an expanding field that has enormous potential applications in areas ranging from supporting structures, functional electronics to medical devices. Conventional 3D metal printing is generally restricted to metals with a high melting point, and the process is rather time consuming.

Now scientists at the Beijing Key Laboratory of CryoBiomedical Engineering, part of the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed a new conceptual 3D printing method with "ink" consisting of a metal alloy that has a melting point slightly above room temperature.


This figure shows the injection needle array of a future liquid phase 3-D printer.

Credit: ©Science China Press

In a new study published by the journal SCIENCE CHINA Technological Sciences, researchers Liu Jing and Wang Lei present a liquid-phase 3D printing technique for the rapid manufacturing of a conductive metal object in one, two or three dimensions. Compared with air cooling in conventional 3D printing, their liquid-phase manufacturing process prevents the metal ink from oxidation.

They outline their findings in a study entitled "Liquid phase 3D printing for quickly manufacturing conductive metal objects with a low melting point alloy ink."

In recent years, these scientists state, metals with a low melting point, especially metals that melt at room temperature, have attracted extensive attention in the areas of computer chip cooling, thermal interface materials, and microfluidics. "Such material has also been proposed as printing ink with evident value in direct writing electronics and 3D printing technology," the Beijing researchers add. In their new study, a four-element alloy, Bi35In48.6Sn16Zn0.4, was developed and adopted as the printing ink.

These scientists likewise developed a streamlined fabrication process.

First, a 3D object is generated as a computer-aided design (CAD) model, and then converted into an STL (STereoLithography) file. The STL file is imported into an open source software program that generates slices of the object as a set of horizontal layers and that generates tool paths for each layer. The printing ink is dropped into a liquid phase cooling fluid via an injection needle; the object is printed layer by layer.

During the process of liquid phase 3D printing, several factors affect the final printing quality.

The types and properties of the printing ink dominate the fabrication process. In principle, any metal with a low melting point (or less than 300°C) can be selected as a printing ink on condition that an appropriate cooling liquid is available. The ink material can be an alloy based on gallium, bismuth, or indium, or even a mixture of these alloys and nanoparticles.

Compared to conventional metal prototyping techniques, liquid phase 3D printing offers several distinct advantages: (1) At a relatively high speed of manufacturing, the process of printing metal objects in a liquid phase can be used to form three-dimensional structures. The temperature field and flow field of the cooling fluid can be flexibly controlled.

Through regulating the flow velocity and direction of the cooling fluid, some unique 3D metal structures can be realized, e.g. a 3D rotating body. (2) 3D electromechanical systems can be printed. A conductive liquid metal can be used in conjunction with nonmetal materials (e.g. plastic) to form 3D functional devices that include supporting structures and conductive devices. The combination of liquid phase 3D printing and conventional printing can meet all kinds of objectives.

In the new study, researchers at the Beijing Key Laboratory of CryoBiomedical Engineering also describe the contours of a liquid phase 3D printer of the future. To optimize the accuracy and speed of 3D printing, they propose adopting a combination of a syringe pump array and a syringe needle array. In this system, the syringe pump array is used to extract the liquid metal solution, while the syringe needle array is deployed to inject the liquid metal ink into the cooling fluid.

The injection needles can be replaced conveniently with others of different sizes to meet various printing objectives. Transforming digital 3D models into printed structures and controlling each needle's injection speed are completed through a computer-implemented process. In this way, 3D metal objects are printed on the bottom of a trough holding the cooling fluid, formed of water, ethanol or other substance.

###

This work was partially supported by the Key Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KGZD-EW-T04).

See the article: Wang L, Liu J. Liquid phase 3D printing for quickly manufacturing conductive metal objects with a low melting point alloy ink. SCI CHINA TECHNOL SC, 2014 Vol. 57 (9): 1721-1728

http://tech.scichina.com:8082/sciEe/EN/abstract/abstract514724.shtml

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11431-014-5583-4

SCIENCE CHINA Technological Sciences is produced by Science China Press, which is a leading publisher of scientific journals in China that operates under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Science China Press presents to the world leading-edge advancements made by Chinese scientists across a spectrum of fields.

http://www.scichina.com/

Liu Jing | Eurek Alert!

Further reports about: 3-D liquid metal melting point metal objects structures temperature

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world
08.02.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS

nachricht New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components
23.01.2017 | Evonik Industries AG

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>