Towards digital metal additive manufacturing via high-temperature drop-on-demand jetting
A B S T R A C T Drop-on-demand jetting of metals offers a fully digital manufacturing approach to surpass the limitations of the current generation powder-based additive manufacturing technologies. However, research on this topic has been restricted mainly to near-net shaping of relatively low melting temperature metals. Here it is proposed a novel approach to jet molten metals at high-temperatures (> 1000°C) to enable the direct digital additive fabrication of micro-to macro-scale objects. The
... technique used in our research -"MetalJet" -is discussed by studying the ejection and the deposition of two example metals, tin and silver. The applicability of this new technology to additive manufacturing is evaluated through the study of the interface formed between the droplets and the substrate, the inter-droplets bonding, the microstructure and the geometrical fidelity of the printed objects. The research shows that the integrity of the samples (in terms of density as well as metallurgy) varies dramatically in the two investigated materials due to the different conditions that are required to melt the interface of the stacked droplets. Nevertheless the research shows that by a careful choice of the jetting strategy and sintering treatments 3D structures of various complexity can be formed. This research paves the way towards the next generation metal additive manufacturing where various printing resolutions and multi-material capabilities could be used to obtain functional components for applications in printed electronics, medicine and the automotive sectors.