KIMS collaboration results in continuous metal Additive Manufacturing pen

March 28, 2023

The metal Additive Manufacturing pen utilised welding techniques to freely manufacture metal in 3D spaces (Courtesy Kim, Dr Chan-kyu, et. al, ‘High-Throughput Metal 3D Printing Pen Enabled by a Continuous Molten Droplet Transfer’, Advanced Science, vol 10.6)
The metal Additive Manufacturing pen utilised welding techniques to freely manufacture metal in 3D spaces (Courtesy Kim, Dr Chan-kyu, et. al, ‘High-Throughput Metal 3D Printing Pen Enabled by a Continuous Molten Droplet Transfer’, Advanced Science, vol 10.6)

A research team led by Dr Sang-woo Song, Dr Chan-kyu Kim, Dr Kang-myung Seo at the government-funded Department of Joining Technology of the Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS), Changwon City, South Korea; a research team led by Professor Young-tae Cho and Professor Seok Kim of Department of Mechanical engineering at Changwon University; and a research team led by Dr Dae-won Cho of Busan Machinery Research Center at the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials, have developed a foundational technology for controlling the volume of molten metal in the process of metal Additive Manufacturing using welding techniques.

The result, detailed in Advance Science, has been the development of a pen capable of freely and continuously Additive Manufacturing in a three-dimensional space. Compared to conventional laser-based Additive Manufacturing, the equipment construction cost is low, and allowing AM to be performed quickly using commercially available welding materials, making it more economical.

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Metal Additive Manufacturing using welding techniques has limitations in realising complex structures because the process is limited to building one layer at a time – this is because subsequent layers are laminated after complete solidification preventing the molten metal from flowing down. Due to this, there is a disadvantage in that a cooling time is required and the conditions that can be laminated are limited to specific examples.

To solve this problem, the research team performed computer analysis to calculate and precisely control the surface tension of the molten metal and the solidified volume according to convection/conduction. Additionally, they developed a technology that can perform metal Additive Manufacturing in all conditions, including horizontal, vertical, inclined, and overhead positions. By continuously laminating the metal in the liquid phase before it fully solidifies, the manufacturing time is shortened, there is no boundary between layers, and it forms a dense microstructure with excellent mechanical properties.

“We added 3D free-form Additive Manufacturing to the continuous additive manufacturing process, which was considered impossible in the existing metal additive manufacturing process,” stated Sang-woo Song. “Like the existing 3D printing technology using polymers, it is possible to easily manufacture complex structures using existing metal welding materials, suggesting a new paradigm for the manufacturing industry.”

This research result was carried out as a project of ‘Development of Multi-metallic Layer Materials for Multi-purpose Micro Modular Reactor’ by the Korea Institute of Materials Science with the support of the Ministry of Science and ICT.

The full paper is available here.

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