Joule Printing™ is a multi-material metal 3D printing technology which uses a metal wire rather the expensive powders
As we read about the rapid progress of the 3D printing technology, we also see a rapid rise in the number of novel 3D printing technologies developed and patented by global companies to solve specific issues in 3D printing.
Digital Alloys, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of multi-metal additive manufacturing systems, has developed and patented a 3D printing technology named as Joule Printing™ technology. It is considered to be a radically simple new process that uses wire feedstock and high deposition rates to print the hardest metal parts faster and at a lower cost than any other solution.
This technology has the unique ability to mix multiple metals in a solid part, enabling customers to push the limits of design and create new products with optimized thermal, electrical, magnetic, and mechanical properties.
Related Read: A Comprehensive List of All 3D Printing Technologies
Factors leading to the innovation of Joule Printing™ technology
Despite the great capabilities of 3D printing, the use of metal 3D printing is still limited and restricted due to high production costs, slow printing speeds, complexity, and quality issues. The company decided to address the core issues and made a few important observations like:
- Low production costs require both an inexpensive raw material and high printing speeds.
- Printing speed is gated by how quickly heat moves to the desired melting location.
- Metal 3D printers work by positioning and then melting raw material to build up 3D parts. For optimal speed, cost, and repeatability, the process should use as few steps as possible.
- Repeatable quality requires an ability to directly measure and control the melting process.
Based on these observations, it can be said that Joule Printing™ technology was conceptualised and later developed.
Joule Printing™ – Multi-Metal 3D Printing Technology
Above: Real-time Joule Printing in operation/Video Credit: Digital Alloys/YouTube
Joule Printing™ is a multi-material metal 3D printing technology. It uses a metal wire as its base material rather the expensive powders used in comparative systems like Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Selective Laser Melting (SLM), Binder Jetting, etc. It works with any metal in wire form. The technology is a radically simple, high-speed process for melting wire into useful shapes.
Joule Printing™ Working Process
The basic working process of Joule Printing™ is as follows:
- The process starts with rapid, precise motion as the wire feed systems position the tip of the wire in contact with the desired printing (melting) location.
- Once the wire is positioned, the system runs a current through the wire. This melts the wire tip using joule heating (aka “resistance heating”), the same physics that heat a coil in a toaster. The melted material is then deposited onto the print bed.
- The deposition continues as the print head moves, laying down beads of metal which are fused together to form fully dense metal parts.
Joule Printing™ provides precise closed-loop control of melting at the voxel level. Since the wire is held in a precision motion system, the deposition can be accurately tracked.
Applications of Joule Printing™ Technology
The Joule Printing™ technology can produce parts for aerospace, automotive and other consumer product industries. The unique ability of this 3D printing technology print with multiple materials allows metals like titanium and high-temperature alloys to be 3D printed for parts that could be used in aerospace applications.
About Digital Alloys: Digital Alloys was founded in 2017 as a spinout from the NVLabs division of New Valence Robotics, Inc. (NVBOTS). It develops high-speed, multi-metal additive manufacturing systems that print production quality parts, in almost any metal, at a fraction of the cost of other systems, making metal 3D metal printing economical for a greatly expanded mix of applications.
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