New 3D Printing Drives Manufacturing Renaissance

by Carolyn Mathas

A research team at the Department of Joining Technology of the Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS) developed a foundational technology to control the volume of molten metal in the process of 3D printing metal using welding.

They conducted collaborative research with a team from the Department of Mechanical engineering at Changwon National University and a research team from the Machinery Research Center at the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials. They successfully developed a metal 3D printing pen technology that continuously prints metal in a 3-D space with freedom.

The 3D printing pen technology developed by the researchers continuously prints metal with free movement of the welding torch in 3D space. Compared with conventional metal 3D printing using lasers, the equipment cost is low, and engineers can use additive manufacturing quickly using commercially available welding materials, keeping costs down.

So how does this create a manufacturing renaissance? Metal additive manufacturing builds one layer at a time, laminating subsequent layers after complete solidification, preventing molten metal from flowing down. Cooling time is required.

The research team used computer analysis to calculate and precisely control the surface tension of the molten metal and the solidified volume according to convection/conduction. They developed a technology that can perform metal additive manufacturing in all conditions, including horizontal, vertical, inclined, and overhead positions. By laminating the metal in the liquid phase before it fully solidifies, they shorten manufacturing time, there is no boundary between layers, and it forms a dense microstructure with excellent mechanical properties.

Their research results were a cover paper in the February issue of Advanced Science. The research team is continuing research for additive manufacturing of high-value-added machinery and parts in the nuclear power plant and defense industries.

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