Sep.26, 2013

New concepts of 3D printers continue to emerge. A new homebrewed 3D printer was demonstrated at the Maker Faire 2013 New York. It was a Liquid Metal Jet printer called the Vader printer created by father-and-son makers Scott and Zack Vader at Vader Systems.

Liquid Metal Jet Printing (LMJP) is a progressive form of 3D printing (also referred to as additive manufacturing). It can build mechanical parts and electronic interconnects in an additive manner. Unlike spray forming, LMJP is similar to ink jet printing where every individual molten droplet is controlled and printed to specific location. Using a head much like that of an ink jet on a paper printer, the machine lays down droplets in layers of molten aluminum that build up gradually. At the end of the process, an object of great complexity can be created with no labor and no energy on the part of the maker. By changing the orifice size, the system will dispense molten spheres of metal with diameters from 100 to 1000 microns.

Currently direct metal laser sintering technology is a common process for making metal parts. It involves the use of a high power laser to fuse small particles of metal powders into a mass that has a desired three-dimensional shape. The laser selectively fuses powdered material by scanning cross-sections generated from a CAD file on the surface of a powder bed. After each cross-section is scanned, the powder bed is lowered by one layer thickness, a new layer of material is applied on top, and the process is repeated until the part is completed. "But the objects aren't ideal for building machine parts because they are slightly porous," Zachary Vader said to Tom's guide.

Vader Systems' first Molten Metal Printer, to be called the Mark 1, is still a prototype which the vader just finished assembly a few days before the New York debut. It had no printhead so no printed items were displayed. But Zachary Vader said "that their device can likewise have thousands of nozzles and run close to or even faster than the speed of an inkjet printer." At the moment their work is focused on development of the aluminum-printing device for rapid prototyping of mechanical parts, but Zachary Vader believes copper, silver and gold will be fairly easy to add.

Initial specs of the Mark 1 Molten Metal 3D Printer:

  • Liquid metal jet printed aluminum
  • Build volume: 250 x 250 x 250 mm
  • Resolution: 50 um
  • Build Speed: 20 mL/h
  • Power Requirements: 15 amp 120v
  • Weight: ~54 kg

The team said the current version is designed for small businesses, but they intend to come out with a version under $10,000 in about a year.


Posted in 3D Printers



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JUlio wrote at 9/27/2013 6:01:25 PM:

Yeah, they presented a gantry robot and they say it is a metal printer. The most important part is missing. With the reprap movement almost anyone can make an XYZ platform.

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