Nov 2, 2015 | By Benedict

Although 3D printers have been used to create metal objects for some time now, plastic remains the go-to material for most additive manufacturing projects. 3D printing with plastics such as PLA and ABS is much cheaper than 3D printing metals, because the controlled melting of plastic is a far simpler process than, for example, the laser sintering of metal, and thus requires less complex and accurate 3D printer components. Photo Electron Soul Inc., a Japanese startup affiliated to Nagoya University, wants to change that and they have developed a next-generation electron beam device which could make the 3D printing of metals quicker and more precise.

Next-generation electron beam generator

The new electron beam device is smaller than existing devices of its kind and could potentially be used in 3D printers, as well as telescopes and other instruments and machinery. It is equipped with a semiconductor developed by a specially selected research team led by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Hiroshi Amano. The unique semiconductor, which generates electrons, uses gallium nitride, which reportedly makes the device up to 20 times more durable than existing models. It is also far smaller than existing devices of its kind, allowing it to be easily incorporated into larger machines such as 3D printers and telescopes.

Another important feature of the device is the power of its electron beams. The device will allow users to observe an object responding to beams in real-time - theoretically, the beams can shorten the recess time necessary between each observation to less than 0.1 seconds from the current 30 minutes.

Photo Electron Soul Inc. was co-founded in July of this year by Tomohiro Nishitani, a lecturer at Nagoya University, and Takayuki Suzuki, the same university’s former technology transfer manager.

“[The] electron beam is currently a key element in these fields and used in various devices such as semiconductor inspection equipment, electron microscopes, and metal additive manufacturing,” the company explains on its website. “In spite of importance of it, electron beam technology has not been changed for almost 40 years”.

Electron beams are commonly used in appliances such as tube televisions and microwaves. Electronic beams emit heat and light, which makes them incredibly useful for melting and joining materials with 3D printing technology. Their concentrated irradiation allows for extremely precise modelling of metals, Photo Electron Soul expect their new device to prove valuable for additive manufacturing firms.

Last month, Photo Electron Soul received a loan from Japan Finance Corporation, and the startup has also been given permission by Nagoya University to turn their research into a marketable product. “Nagoya University has researched electron beams for nearly 30 years now and it has world-class technological prowess in that field. We not only aspire to become a successful venture company but make an impact on industries worldwide,” said Suzuki, the company’s president.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Quentin Rowe wrote at 11/4/2015 11:44:50 PM:

Um, that would be microscopes, not telescopes...

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