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There's a new metal 3D Printing process called Direct Metal Writing!

Being able to 3D print metal through processes such as DMLS, has, without doubt, revolutionised modern manufacturing.

However, the process of using lasers to fuse together fine metal powder is not perfect, with parts often ending up with gaps or defects caused by a variety of factors.Direct Metal Writing

In an effort to better the process, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has teamed up with the Worchester Polytechnic Institute and has created a new metal 3D printing process, which they have called Direct Metal Writing.

The technology involves heating metal ingot until it reaches a semisolid state. This ‘shear thinning material’ is unique in that it behaves like a solid when still, but like a liquid when force is applied. This semisolid metal can be directly extruded from a nozzle; once extruded, it solidifies again and hardens as it cools.

The team explains, “The main issue was getting very tight control over the flow as you need precise control of the temperature. How you stir it, how fast you stir it, all makes a difference. If you can get the flow properties right, then you really have something. “

The parts used in the trials so far, have been produced using a bismuth-tin mixture, which has a low melting point of less than 300 degrees Celsius. The next challenge is to try and achieve the same with aluminium alloys, although the vastly higher melting point could be a huge challenge. If successful, however, it could be of great interest to many manufacturing industries, including aerospace, where the reduction of weight is always of prime importance.

For now, Direct Metal Writing looks to be able to offer a significant time saving on the more traditional metal 3D printing processes by eliminating the need for validation checks for defects. In addition, less material means less weight so all in all, definitely a process to keep an eye on…


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