Exploring the Application of 3D Printing in the Metals Industry: A Discussion with Sarah Jordan


Charles R. Goulding and Andressa Bonafe have a conversation with Sarah Jordan, co-founder of the revolutionary Skuld LLC.

Sarah Jordan is the co-founder of an innovative company with an ambitious vision. Pioneering a sustainable process that combines 3D printing and lost foam casting, Skuld LLC aims to outdo conventional metals manufacturing and save the world. Its mission is to produce metal parts in the most environmentally friendly and efficient manner, which saves not only time and money but also our planet. So we reached out to Sarah to discuss her ground-breaking work.

Sarah Jordan, co-founder of Skuld LLC.

For starters, we are curious to know a little more about you, your background, and the professional and educational experiences that led you eventually to co-found Skuld LLC.

I am a specialist in the field of metallurgical engineering. This study is concentrated on the broad aspects of metals, from the processing phase to the final usage. My initial career path encompasses the usual works in the metal industry like foundries, heat treat stores, machine shops, steel plants, etc. However, I have always been passionate about a specific type of casting termed ‘lost foam casting’ I used to work in. Interestingly, this type of casting is recognized as the most environment-friendly casting method by the Department of Energy. This method is not widespread due to the significant tool costs associated with it, liming it to high-volume works such as automotive parts.

Skuld LLC was created with the intention of overcoming this issue. We saw the potential in combining 3D printing with lost foam. By doing so, we could eliminate the hindrance caused by tooling, making the green process readily available and practical in production. The main advantage is the reduction in reliance on antiquated methods that are less eco-friendly and generate greater amounts of carbon emissions.

Could you tell us more about Skuld LLC and its mission?

Our mission is simple but ambitious: to revolutionize traditional metals manufacturing and to help conserve our environment. We aim to alter the environmental component and enhance processes. We aspire to replace a considerable amount of metals processes. While this goal might be seen as very ambitious by many in the additive industry, we sincerely believe it to be possible.

We are exploring a fresh approach that marries 3D printing with lost foam casting, termed additive manufacturing evaporative casting (AMEC). This progressive method’s merits are relative to the existing metal processes it is contrasted against. If we consider conventional pattern-based techniques, AMEC presents key advantages. Primarily, it is vastly less costly. One drawback of metal additive is the steep price, limiting its application due to most individuals’ inability to afford a tenfold or a hundredfold spend on a component. While there are situations where such an investment might be worthwhile, it won’t gain much traction if a part priced at US$300.00 per pound rather than US$3.00. We are focusing on optimizing the cost factor. The second domain in which our method holds potential is qualification which is currently facing several challenges. Our process yields a material with the same properties as traditional casting. The microstructure is consistent, even without any tooling and manages to create intricate geometries otherwise hard to accomplish.

Could you shed light on the R&D journey culminating in this new technique and the obstacles tackled along the way?

Our genesis lies in our metal and casting knowledge, so we didn’t dive into 3D printing right away. We commenced by purchasing readily available prints to examine their viability. Our approach differed from the commonality of university and laboratory-originated endeavors. We strove to make it work from an industry stance. Our journey began with repeated trials and eventual success, leading us to acquire a printer to build our prints due to necessity.

My aim is to develop a process whereby we can take a CAD file, run it through software to evaluate parameters and spot possible issues. To accomplish everything digitally and achieve success the first time around is the goal. However, I acknowledge that plenty of additive methods need some degree of trial and error for each new design. There’s a certain non-recurring engineering expense you incur when you venture to make a new design functional.

What are some of the current applications of AMEC and what do you envision for the future?

At this time, we are exploring numerous applications and material types. Our specific focus currently lies in the area of tooling parts, which includes a wide array such as injection molding tooling and drawn-over-mandrel tooling. Beyond this, legacy parts and prototype designs are also under our purview. Our predominant work material is aluminum because we find it most convenient to work with, though we have made parts using steel, nickel alloys, and copper alloys.

Our work has attracted interest from a host of different industries primarily because of the cost-effectiveness of AMEC. The industries that have shown the most interest are those that are already familiar with additive processes such as aerospace, defense, and medical – these are the early adopters of 3D printing technology. However, there are several other industries that see the potential of incorporating additive, provided it is cost-effective.

And what do you envision for the future of Skuld LLC?

We are on our way to constructing devices that allow others to utilize our method. Our recent launch includes Lightning Metal 16, which empowers anybody to create speedy and precise components. It integrates extrusion-based polymer 3D printing with lost foam casting, working with materials such as aluminum, brass, bronze, and copper. Components can be created in a minimum of 10 hours with excellent tolerance levels down to 0.3%. The procedure makes use of scrap/ingot and affordable filament, with the final metal boasting a cast microstructure and properties.

As we come to our concluding question, we’re eager to hear your viewpoint on the primary hurdles to be tackled for achieving more mainstream adoption of additive manufacturing in the metals industry.

The primary issue, in my opinion, is cost reduction. This, I believe, is where our process shows its value, being price competitive with standard manufacturing methods. Some might question this, but I genuinely believe we can produce aluminum components at US$3 per pound, which is a valid target. The second hurdle is accumulating substantial qualification data to ensure the additive process and materials yield safe, reliable parts with consistent attributes.

End statement

Sarah’s passion for metal innovation is evidenced by her commitment to developing more efficient and sustainable manufacturing processes. Recently, she became a part of the seventh cohort of Innovation Crossroads at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL. This acknowledgment showcases the transformative potential of her contributions at Skuld LLC.

Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

Like it? Share with your friends!


Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
The Classic Internet Listicles
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Youtube and Vimeo Embeds
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Photo or GIF
GIF format