An interesting 3D printing-related topic has been introduced in the user community idea bank Halfbakery for further development. User, who goes by the name of sanman has found the current lineup of most of the commonly used entry level 3D printing materials and technologies – ABS/PLA & FDM respectively – to be somewhat restricting compared to, for example, working with metal with the SLS process or other manufacturing tech. Sanman’s idea is laser accelerated electroplasting – with the intention of using it for fabricating macroscopic metal objects – that could potentially be able to create large parts and models.
In practice this technique would involve using the basic concept of solidifying UV-curable liquid polymer with a laser (ie the SL/DLP processes) – but replacing the liquid polymer with a solution of metal ions. The bond between the layers should also be relatively strong due to ionic bonding, which in addition to high precision would make this tech very interesting for different user groups.
Sanman assumes that using this tech – electroforming – would be more cost-effective than the current line-up of 3D metal printers, because it wouldn’t require the use of a vacuum/inert gas filled build chamber. Theoretically this tech would allow printing speeds of up to 25µm/s, which would make it very much useable for a range of applications, for example printing your own jewellery at home. There is no real visibility on economics at this point, which is obviously a key issue.
If you want to read more about this – the full story with the inevitable debate in the comment section –can be found by hitting the source link.
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