An additive manufacturing system that produces parts by jetting metal ink has been developed by Israeli firm Xjet. The system is based on the company’s so-called NanoParticle Jetting technology, which uses ink jetting to produce complex metal parts from a suspension of nanoscale particles.
The firm claims that the system represents a fundamental breakthrough in additive manufacturing and produced higher quality, more detailed parts than is possible with existing metal additive techniques – most of which build parts from powdered metal.
The technology uses solid metal nanoparticles suspended in liquid “ink” in sealed cartridges. During the printing process, ultra-fine layers of droplets of this ink – which also contains support structure nanoparticles – are deposited onto the build-tray, where extremely high temperatures cause the liquid ‘jacket’ around the metal nanoparticles to evaporate. After this a sintering process is carried out to fuse the metal particles together.
Xjet claims that the size of the particles and the ultra-thin layers that the process creates allows a level of detail that gives printed components virtually the same metallurgy as traditionally made metal parts. Because the raw material is loaded into the machine in a sealed cartridge the system is claimed to be far safer and more user-friendly than other systems, which require users to handle metal powders.
>>Read more by Jon Excell, The Engineer, November 8, 2016