Researchers develop multimetal 3D printer
Universal additive manufacturing tech reduces costs by 30% Metal Tech News – December 15, 2021
Last updated 12/28/2021 at 2:11pm
Scientists from the National University of Science and Technology Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys (NUST MISiS) Catalysis Lab have discovered how to print 3D products from metals of different groups on a single printer, reducing overall costs by an average of 30%.
As modern metallurgical production actively moves into the additive manufacturing format, some of the most stringent industries are finding that 3D printing can add a new realm of functionality never before conceived.
From aircraft construction, civil engineering, waste disposal and recycling, and even light industries (consumer-based productions), the range of materials for 3D printing is constantly expanding. Whether combining polymers and plastics, metals and alloys, glass and ceramics, or concretes and composites, the limitations begin with the printer itself.
NUST MISiS researchers have taken metal 3D printing to the next level by presenting a universal production technology for various industries using a single printer.
As a basis, laboratory engineers took a 3D printer from the Russian company Addsol and optimized its design. The cost was roughly 7 million rubles (about US$100,000), which is at least three times cheaper than analogs (3D printers that extrude material without additional alteration, i.e, concrete).
This latest multi-metallic printing is unique because it allows using various metals and their alloys, which are often very difficult to process.
To print one group of metals, the printer's design had to be modified and optimized; for printing the others, the materials themselves had to be adjusted with the help of additives and catalysts obtained by the team.
For example, magnesium alloys can not be processed without the use of special saline fluxes since they ignite and burn. The technology then presupposes modification of the printer, selection of the modes, and the blowing system.
Another example of metallic multi-materials 3D processing is nitinol, or titanium nickelide, widely used for medical device manufacturing due to its unique superelasticity or shaping memory.
One of the most promising applications for this technology, opined by the designers, is the printing of permanent magnets from neodymium-iron-boron powder.
Used in the automotive and aircraft industries for generators and electric motor production, traditional production of such magnets is generally multi-staged and expensive. The 3D printing of these magnets would allow a reduction of synthesis steps and, ultimately, reduce the cost of the part itself.
In addition, additive manufacturing allows synthesizing magnets of any complex shape, not only in the form of a disk but other shapes that must be machined.
The team is currently completing work for the possibility of printing from bronze and copper that can be used for rocket engines.