Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New USC process offers faster, cheaper 3D ’printouts’


Desktop manufacturing for home desks seen

A University of Southern California inventor has created a machine that can produce 3-dimensional "printouts" in plastic and even metal more quickly and cheaply than widely-used existing systems.

The new machine is a significant improvement on the laser sintering machines now widely used around the world to build complex 3D forms from computer files, according to its creator, Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis of the USC School of Engineering’s Daniel J. Epstein department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

One patent has been granted and others are pending on the process, which may eventually put 3D object-making within reach of home offices.

Both traditional laser sintering and Dr. Khoshnevis’ "Selective Inhibition of Sintering" (SIS) process start with CAD ("computer aided design) three-dimensional form creation software.

The three-dimensional shapes visualized in the computer are re-visualized as stacks of very thin virtual layers. Then, each virtual layer is transformed into a real one.

Sintering machines build up objects by spreading a less- than-1 millimeter thick layer of powdered plastic or other material in a work area, and then melting ("sintering") selected areas, guided by the computer pattern. The process is repeated multiple times, with unmelted powder shaken off or blown away at the end of the process.

The result is to gradually build up complex forms, layer by layer. Such structures as free rolling balls inside of cages, for example, can easily be made.

The objects created were once almost exclusively used as molds or prototypes for die-casting, stamping or other traditional mass-production processes, and this role gave the name "rapid prototyping" to such processes. But with the increasing sophistication of techniques, some companies now use R-P processes - and particularly laser sintering -- for what is now called "direct manufacturing" or "desktop manufacturing" of final products.

Existing machines use a moving laser beam traveling over the work area to do the melting. SIS, for "Selective Inhibition Sintering" instead automatically treats some of the powder applied to resist bonding with adjacent particles under heat, and then exposes the entire piece to uniform, high-intensity heat. Untreated areas of powder sinter. Treated areas do not.

Various anti-sintering materials can be used, including salt water.

Khoshnevis says the SIS process has several advantages over laser machines. The lasers and scanners used in such machines are extremely expensive (up to $100,000 each), short-lived, and energy intensive, he notes, while the heat source for an SIS can be a low- tech gas flame, or an inexpensive electrical heater filament. The cheap, high heat possible with the SIS process makes the use of metals as well as plastics feasible.

Finally, because lasers have to scan out the entire work area, turning on and off to melt the needed areas, they are intrinsically slower in building up pieces, with large, complicated pieces requiring many hours, or even days. The SIS machine can complete a layer in as little as 15 seconds.

The advantages of the process make it possible to see a wider range of use for such machines. "Down the line," says Dr. Khoshnevis, "home offices may have them, right alongside the printer." Shops may have similar, heavier duty units, he said, filling work niches now held by lathes and milling machines.

Khoshnevis now has a working prototype machine, the performance of which he has demonstrated at various conferences.

Khoshnevis’ research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Behrokh Khoshnevis Web site

Eric Mankin | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Etching Microstructures with Lasers
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Applying electron beams to 3-D objects
23.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>