With so many new methods cropping up, additive manufacturing seems to only become a broader field everyday. With wide-ranging device categories that use everything from UV to electro-magnets, what a 3D printer is, has come to mean so many things. In keeping with this trend, we now have Ultrasonic Particle Manipulation joining the fold. The team claims that eventually this technology could enable the development of electronics in a single piece from start to finish.
Lithuanian researchers at Neurotechnology have developed a staggering new 3D printing technique using ultrasonic waves. The method uses a range of ultrasonic transducers to levitate objects and move them around. As the particles hover, the machine lasers them into the desired form. Using this technique, the team have created Printed Circuit Boards.
The method can handle various materials of varying shapes. UPM allows manufacturers to make parts without any contact and without causing damage to the components. The researchers have also learnt to tune the frequencies to obtain different resolutions. UPN can achieve under 10 microns. This makes it ideal for compiling intricate multi-material prints.
That’s not to say that there are no downsides. The biggest problem they’re running into now is that it has weight restrictions. If a material is too dense then it will not work. However, at the moment it can use a wider range of materials than most FDM 3D printing systems.
There are many applications for this technology. The research team have highlighted the ability to create PCBs and various electronics. The most fascinating potential use is in manufacturing technology in a single piece. Imagine a device that can build a phone from start to finish. While this particular application is many years away, it is very much in the realm of possibility.
What’s interesting about the method is that it is requires no physical contact with a bed or a platform. In turn, this enables researchers to experiment with items that may not be suitable for physical contact with a surface while heated or lasered. For instance, this could enable materials that may be too sticky to be formed without the need for harsh removal.
All images courtesy of engineering.com.