Houston, Texas, USA : The 3D printing of plastics has largely come of age in the last decade, solving many of the engineering challenges in the process, these solutions are now ready to be applied to the 3D printing of metal.
Used to produce three-dimensional objects of almost any type, across a range of industries, including healthcare, aviation and engineering, 3D printed materials have come of age during the last decade. Research published in the journal Materials Today demonstrates a new approach to 3D printing to fuse metallic filaments made from metallic glass into metallic objects.
Jan Schroers, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Yale University and Desktop Metal, Inc., in Burlington, Massachusetts, USA, along with colleagues point out that 3D printing of thermoplastics is highly advanced, but the 3D printing of metals is still challenging and limited. The reason being that metals generally don’t exist in a state that they can be readily extruded.
“We have shown theoretically in this work that we can use a range of other bulk metallic glasses and are working on making the process more practical- and commercially-usable to make 3D printing of metals as easy and practical as the 3D printing of thermoplastics,” said Prof. Schroers.
Unlike conventional metals, bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) have a super-cooled liquid region in their thermodynamic profile and are able to undergo continuous softening upon heating—a phenomenon that is present in thermoplastics, but not conventional metals. Prof. Schroers and colleagues have thus shown that BMGs can be used in 3D printing to generate solid, high-strength metal components under ambient conditions of the kind used in thermoplastic 3D printing.
The article is “3D printing metals like thermoplastics: Fused filament fabrication of metallic glasses,” by Michael A. Gibson, Nicholas M. Mykulowycz, Joseph Shim, Richard Fontana, Peter Schmitt, Andrew Roberts, Jittisa Ketkaew, Ling Shao, Wen Chen, Punnathat Bordeenithikasem, Jonah S. Myerberg, Ric Fulop, Matthew D. Verminski, Emanuel M. Sachs, Yet-Ming Chiang, Christopher A. Schuh, A. John Hart, and Jan Schroers (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mattod.2018.07.001). It appears in Materials Today, published by Elsevier.