Researchers from MIT have created a new method of 3D printing from liquid metal
Specialists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a new additive manufacturing method for printing three-dimensional parts of liquid metal called liquid metal printing (LMP). The parts are produced using a jet of molten aluminum directed along a given trajectory onto a layer of tiny glass beads (100 microns), where a ready-made 3D structure is formed. Metal products are created in a few minutes.
MIT engineers have created a facility capable of melting aluminum and keeping it in a liquid state to create the desired part. The metal is fed through the nozzle at high speed (700°C), and aluminum is chosen by developers because it is widely used in construction and is easily recycled.
During printing, the nozzle is immersed in the powder of glass balls and it is impossible to directly observe the process of creating products. To control the printing process, the researchers created a computer model. The model determines the volume of molten metal fed through the nozzle at each printing step.
The creators of the LMP technology noticed that their method is 10 times faster than similar 3D printing technologies. However, the technology has a drawback. Due to the rapid production, the created installation has a low resolution of printing parts. According to the authors, the new technology is suitable for the manufacture of large components in areas where detailing is usually low, for example, in architecture, construction or industrial design. The developers demonstrated the operation of the installation by creating aluminum frames for tables and chairs.