Feb 23, 2017 | By Tess

Ohio-based metal 3D printing company Fabrisonic LLC has been granted a U.S. patent (number 9,446,475) for a process to co-locate the additive and subtractive elements of its ultrasonic additive manufacturing equipment. The company, known for its ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM) technology which uses sound waves to 3D print metal objects, says the patent covers enhancements to its hybrid metal 3D printers.

According to the patent, Fabrisonic’s “UAM weld head becomes a tool in the CAT 50 tool-changer of a standard CNC mill.” According to the company’s CEO Mark Norfolk, by co-locating the welding and milling functions of its machine, Fabrisonic can improve the accuracy of its hybrid 3D printers and increase their build volume without making the machines themselves bigger.

U.S. patent 9,446,475 marks the company’s 10th patent, a fact “which adds confirmation to Fabrisonic’s leadership in developing metal 3D printers,” says Norfolk. The Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing process was developed by Fabrisonic in collaboration with Dave Bartholomew and Charles Sidlosky from Ultra Tech Machinery of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

The technology, which was originally invented in 1999 by one Dawn White, has since 2011 been pioneered by Fabrisonic, which is now the only company to use the technology. The innovative process consists of merging layers of metal foil using sound waves to build up 3D objects. This means that high temperatures for melting are not necessary, making the technology suitable for normal shop environments.

Another advantage of UAM technology is its hybrid additive/subtractive system, which the new patent will seek to enhance. As the company explains, its “production machines start out life as a commercial 3 Axis CNC mill.” From there, Fabrisonic adds its patented welding head for additive manufacturing. The welding head is used to build up 3D objects to “near net shape,” and the CNC mill is then used to refine the object until it is complete. Fabrisonic’s hybrid system allows for parts to be produced with smooth surface finishes and tolerances of +/-.0005.”

The machine’s hybrid features also make it suitable for repair applications, as worn or damaged parts can be machined and build back up, layer by layer, using the additive manufacturing sonic weld head.

Fabrisonic’s products include the SonicLayer 4000 hybrid machine and the SonicLayer 7200, which have build volumes of 24” x 36” and 6 ft x 6 ft x 3 ft, respectively. Their large build volumes are allowed thanks to UAM’s fast build rates, which print from 15 to 30 cubic inches per hour.

As Fabrisonic accumulates more patents for its innovative additive manufacturing technology, we can only imagine the hybrid UAM system will continue to develop and advance.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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