The evolution of 3D printers continues to consider alternatives to the industrial manufacturing processes, and now comes an alternative that could be useful in that transition. Neil Hopkinson, Professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Sheffield, has been working for years now in the sintering of high speed, and the technology is already in an advanced stage of its development.
If we compare it with other techniques such as injection molding injection, adding manufacturing is capable of reduce the use of materials and also to save costs for machines responsible for develop objects with forms complicated. With laser sintering machines it is possible to make much faster objects small and complex, but there is a problem: that of materials that can be used.
Mass manufacture even of integrated circuits
The range of polymers that can be used in high-speed sintering is limited compared with that advantage is in injection molding by injection, and some experts industrial polymers they may not be compatible with this process Since you need to combine the dust of those polymers with a material capable of absorbing the light that is required during the manufacturing process.
Yet the Hopkinson working group has shown that your system can be “on the order of 100 times” faster than the sintering laser for certain objects, and can be competitive with injection molding If one manufactures millions of small objects in series.
While laser sintering uses a laser with a single point of focus to melt and fuse the thin layers of polymer powder on sintering of high speed an infrared lamp is used and a print head ink that allow that process to fruition in much less time.
Now it remains to be seen if this technique achieves popular acceptance, and companies like Voxeljet have already licensed it to take advantage of it in next-generation 3D printers. HP has developed a similar system with the still developing Multi Jet Fusion, but Hopkinson ensures that your machine will use additional materials such as electronic ink to print integrated circuits, something which can be a significant leap in this market.