Innovative 3D-Printing Technique Using Liquid Metal Developed by MIT Researchers


MIT researchers have devised a quick 3D-printing method that employs liquid metal for extremely swift prints. Large aluminum components can be created in minutes with this process, unlike many current techniques which take hours to complete the same print. The technology has already been utilized to produce objects such as table legs, chair frames, and other related furniture components.

The process is named liquid metal printing (LMP), and it involves guiding molten aluminum along a determined path into a collection of tiny glass beads. The beads rapidly solidify into a 3D structure. According to researchers, this new method is around ten times faster than similar metal production techniques.

Nevertheless, there is one significant drawback. This technique trades precision for speed and scale. That’s why the experts used it to make low-resolution items like chair legs, as opposed to more complex objects with intricate geometries. Still, MIT researchers maintain that this compromise makes the technology advantageous for creating “elements of larger structures” without the need for extremely small details. This can include the creation of furniture parts as previously mentioned, and also components used in construction and industrial design.

Despite the decreased resolution, items made via LMP remain robust and can endure post-print processes like drilling and boring. The inventors of this technology claim the results are much stronger than those made using wire arc additive manufacturing, an already-existing metal printing method. This is due to LMP maintaining the material’s molten state throughout the whole procedure, which reduces the likelihood of cracks and deformities.

The researchers endorse the use of LMP combined with other methods for tasks that mandate speed and high resolution. “Things like tables, chairs, and buildings that make up the majority of our built environment do not require very high resolution”, said Skylar Tibbits, a senior author of a paper introducing the project.

It’s also important to mention that this printing technique does not have to rely on aluminum. It has the capacity to work with other metals as well. However, the researchers opted for aluminum given its widespread use in construction and its recyclability.

The creators of this technology aspire to continue refining their concept to enhance heating consistency, prevent sticking, and provide more control over the molten metal. There have been problems with larger nozzle diameters resulting in irregular prints, which is something that needs to be addressed. Tibbits is of the opinion that this method could become a transforming factor in how metal manufacturing evolves.

Even though 3D printing has somewhat lost favor in the commercial domain, it has made huge strides in recent years. Researchers have invented a minuscule 3D printer that can be inserted into the body to repair and cleanse damaged tissue. Scientists have also printed a functional component of the human heart recently.

Original source


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

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