Electromagnetic Volume Additive Manufacturing

Physical Sciences : Mechanical

Available for licensing

Inventors

  • Carolyn Seepersad, Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering
  • Joseph Beaman, Jr., Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering
  • John Pearce, Ph.D. , Electrical and Computer Engineering

Background/unmet need

Additive manufacturing (AM) enables fabrication of complex, customized objects. However, most AM processes suffer from slow fabrication rates because parts are processed in thin layers, often by point sources of energy such as lasers. Both current and experimental methods, such as Selective Laser Sintering and High Speed Sintering, have failed to achieve optimal production speed. Additionally, the layer-by-layer cycle of current AM methods hinders the ability to produce certain materials. A method must be established in which production time can be cut down significantly while maintaining complexity and customization capabilities in produced materials.

Invention Description

This novel AM method combines binder deposition with electromagnetic sintering of parts. Binder deposition techniques are used to selectively deposit dopants onto a powder bed in layers, which absorb specific microwave and radio frequency energy sources. The absorbed electromagnetic energy is used to volumetrically sinter or melt the powders into a final product. The sintered areas are only those in which dopants have been printed and exposed to electromagnetic energy. The ability to sinter specific areas of the material in conjunction with volumetric heating allows for a greater variety of materials that can be produced by AM.

Electromagnetic Volumetric AM is similar to High Speed Sintering but differs in that, instead of applying heat in layers, dopants are applied in layers while heating occurs for the whole volume of the object in a single step. As opposed to the use of infrared and radiant energy in High Speed Sintering, the proposed method uses micro- and radio wave energy to penetrate the build volume more deeply, allowing for large volumes of material to be sintered simultaneously. Electromagnetic Volumetric AM offers the capability of volumetrically fabricated objects with the same complexity and customization capability of conventional AM processes, but faster by many orders of magnitude.

Benefits/Advantages

  • Significant increase in fabrication speed by multiple orders of magnitude
  • Expanded range of producible materials
  • Allows for large volumes of material to be sintered simultaneously
  • Retains material complexity and ability to customize properties
  • Deeper penetration of build material by microwaves and radio waves

Features

  • Selective area sintering by binder deposition
  • Layer-by-layer application of dopants
  • One-step heating for entire volume of the object
  • Electromagnetic energy source by microwaves and radio waves
  • Volumetric fabrication

Market potential/applications

Persistence Market Research reports that the global additive manufacturing market value is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% to 22% during the period 2015-2025. Additionally, an Allied Market Research report on 3D printing predicts that selective laser sintering and fused deposition modeling will be the most demanded additive manufacturing techniques in the future as markets grow and technology becomes cheaper. The increasing demand for additive manufacturing and 3D printing in automotive, manufacturing, and healthcare industries is attributed to the design of complex parts and finished goods. Enhanced additive manufacturing processes are ideal for fabricating these intricate products in that it is applicable to a variety of materials, such as plastics, metal alloys, rubber, and ceramics.

Development Stage

Proof of concept

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed