3-D printing with metals achieved

June 10, 2015
A copper micro-pillar with a height of 0.86 millimetres and a width of 0.005 millimetres. The pillar is formed from drops that had a diameter of 0.001 millimetres. With this technique, more complex shapes can also be printed.

A team of researchers from the University of Twente has found a way to 3D print structures of copper and gold, by stacking microscopically small metal droplets. These droplets are made by melting a thin metal film using a pulsed laser. Their work is published on Advanced Materials.

3D printing is a rapidly advancing field, that is sometimes referred to as the 'new cornerstone of the manufacturing industry'. However, at present, 3D printing is mostly limited to plastics. If metals could be used for 3D printing as well, this would open a wide new range of possibilities. Metals conduct electricity and heat very well, and they're very robust. Therefore, 3D printing in metals would allow manufacturing of entirely new devices and components, such as small cooling elements or connections between stacked chips in smartphones.

However, metals melt at a high temperature. This makes controlled deposition of metal droplets highly challenging. Thermally robust nozzles are required to process liquid metals, but these are hardly available. For small structures in particular (from 100 nanometres to 10 micrometres) no good solutions for this problem existed yet.

Researchers from FOM and the University of Twente now made a major step towards high-resolution metal printing. They used light to melt copper and gold into micrometre-sized droplets and deposited these in a controlled manner. In this method, a pulsed laser is focused on a thin metal film. that locally melts and deforms into a flying drop. The researchers then carefully position this drop onto a substrate. By repeating the process, a 3D structure is made. For example, the researchers stacked thousands of drops to form micro-pillars with a height of 2 millimetres and a diameter of 5 micrometres. They also printed vertical electrodes in a cavity, as well as lines of copper. In effect, virtually any shape can be printed by smartly choosing the location of the drop impact.

High energy

In this study, the researchers used a surprisingly high laser energy in comparison to earlier work, to increase the impact velocity of the droplets. When these fast droplets impact onto the substrate, they deform into a disk shape and solidify in that form. The disk shape is essential for a sturdy 3D print: it allows the researchers to firmly stack the droplets on top of each other. In previous attempts, physicists used low laser energies. This allowed them to print smaller drops, but the drops stayed spherical, which meant that a stack of solidified droplets was less stable.

The video will load shortly
The stacking of micrometer-sized drops results in the formation of a pillar.

In their article, the researchers explain which speed is required to achieve the desired drop shape. They had previously predicted this speed for different laser energies and materials. This means that the results can be readily translated to other metals as well.

One remaining problem is that the high laser energy also results in landing on the substrate next to the desired location. At present this cannot be prevented. In future work the team will investigate this effect, to enable clean printing with metals, gels, pastas or extremely thick fluids.

Explore further: Lower-cost metal 3-D printing solution available

More information: Towards 3D Printing of Pure Metals by Laser-Induced Forward Transfer, Advanced Materials, 10th June 2015. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201501058/abstract

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14 comments

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gkam
2.2 / 5 (6) Jun 10, 2015
It has been found that copper and many of its compounds kill bacteria, and medical facilities with touch surfaces coated with them have reduced their infections by 50%. This includes noroviruses, so I expect to see copper plated cruise ship touch surfaces, as well.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
5 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2015
I think this technology will be critical for space colonization. We need 3d printers that can make things directly from refined resources on whatever body you are on.
We need big ones too, big enough to make building parts, or a printer that is able to move around in order to build large structures and make repairs from meteorite damage.
I imagine eventually structures on the moon will be absolutely immense by earth standards and it won't be practical for a few humans to structurally maintain them.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2015
When they can print me a new heart, I'll truly be impressed.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Jun 10, 2015
When they can print me a new heart, I'll truly be impressed.

Prepare to be truly impressed
http://timesofind...6327.cms

Until that goes to market you can use 3D custom printed pacemakers
http://abcnews.go...cemaker/
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2015
It has been found that copper and many of its compounds kill bacteria, and medical facilities with touch surfaces coated with them have reduced their infections by 50%. This includes noroviruses, so I expect to see copper plated cruise ship touch surfaces, as well.
Uh what does this have to do with the article?

Here let me try one; Steel, bismuth, iron, and copper-plated lead used in shotgun shells has been found to reduce lead contamination of waterways by 50%.

ADHDs a bitch aint it?
Steve 200mph Cruiz
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2015
He just hasn't heard of electroplating, or has looked at the statue of liberty.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Jun 10, 2015
Is that a reply to otto? I do not see his silly stuff, because it is usually just adolescent screaming across the playground. But my point, obviously beyond you, was the inclusion of metals can give us other benefits, including better sterility of the things we make.

Sorry if that was too deep.
Mike_Massen
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 10, 2015
gkam offered
It has been found that copper and many of its compounds kill bacteria, and medical facilities with touch surfaces coated with them have reduced their infections by 50%. This includes noroviruses, so I expect to see copper plated cruise ship touch surfaces, as well.
Spot on :-) !

Immense use of stainless steel in hospitals has been considered a major problem as the micro-fissures allow mobile bacteria to hide & attract to iron at the nano level, many can use Fe as a catalyst to make food from the sweat, spittle etc & despite cleaning, the bacteria are back again soon.

Copper, high copper brass and Nickel/copper/steel which can appear like stainless is oligodynamic and does kill bacteria, denatures virui - & does not need frequent cleaning (except for nose boogers)...

Copper has similar effects in & on the body, reduces opportunistic infections to the immune compromised. Incidentally humans can only absorb iron properly through copper enzymes...
Lex Talonis
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 11, 2015
This is a variation of MIG welding....

Hell fuck - even I can do this...

This whole process is as simple as anything.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 11, 2015

Copper has similar effects in & on the body, reduces opportunistic infections to the immune compromised. Incidentally humans can only absorb iron properly through copper enzymes...


It is also somewhat toxic and impairs liver and kidney function under chronic exposure.

http://en.wikiped...toxicity
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jun 11, 2015
Hell fuck - even I can do this...

You can weld stuff 0.005mm accross?

Hic Rhodus, hic salta.
gkam
1 / 5 (3) Jun 11, 2015
"It is also somewhat toxic and impairs liver and kidney function under chronic exposure."
--------------------------------

we are not asking you to eat it.

How many folk die each year from wearing copper bracelets?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Jun 11, 2015
Is that a reply to otto? I do not see his silly stuff
Of course you do. youre too big an egomaniac not to read what is posted about you.

Youre just too big a coward to respond to it.
Spot on :-) !

Immense use of stainless steel in hospitals has been considered a major problem as the micro-fissures allow mobile bacteria to hide & attract to iron at the nano level
So again, mikey, what does that have to do with the article? And what about all the birds who escape the primary effects of birdshot, who can now expect to live the remainder of their lives free of lead poisoning?
How many folk die each year from wearing copper bracelets?
-And how many birds die each year from lead poisoning?

"Signs include: lethargy, progressive weakness, green-stained feces and vent (cloaca) due to bile staining, reluctance to fly or inability to sustain flight, and weight loss leading to emaciation."
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Jun 11, 2015
"Severely affected birds often do not have an escape response but will usually seek isolation and cover, making them difficult to find. Green-colored feces can be seen in areas used by lead-poisoned waterfowl.

"Lesions
Waterfowl are often emaciated with severe wasting of breast muscles, impaction of the esophagus and/or proventriculus with food material, and an enlarged gallbladder containing thick, dark green bile. Green bile staining may be seen in the gizzard and/or around the vent. The gizzard may or may not contain lead fragments. The diagnosis is confirmed by detecting toxic levels of lead in tissues, including liver, kidney, and blood."

-This can be avoided with the use of copper-plated shot, which would only impair liver and kidney function under chronic exposure.

And they would still make a tasty and healthy meal.

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