Have You Heard About This New Sound-Based 3D Printing Process?

Researchers from Concordia University created a new sound-based 3D printing process.

Cameron Coward
19 days ago3D Printing

Most 3D printing today relies on heat (as with filament-based printing and selective laser sintering), light (as with stereolithography), or physical binding (as with inkjet printing). But there is another potential catalyst that we haven't heard much about: sound. Soundwaves, which are just vibrations passing through a physical medium, carry energy. If that energy could solidify a liquid, sound would work for 3D printing. Researchers from Concordia University achieved that to create a new sound-based 3D printing process.

As with all other 3D printing processes, the goal here is to solidify material on-demand at a specific physical location. Each solidified point is a voxel and voxels join to form an object — either in layers or volumetrically. An MSLA (masked stereolithography) resin 3D printer, for example, solidifies voxels by shining UV light onto photosensitive resin. This new 3D printing process does the same thing, except it uses directed soundwaves to solidify a liquid polymer solution.

This process uses ultrasound, which is easy to produce using low-cost transducers. It is possible to control both the frequency (and therefore wavelength) and amplitude of the ultrasound as needed. The ultrasound pulses penetrate through the vat of the 3D printer and into the liquid polymer solution. That solution is the real innovation here. When the precisely controlled ultrasound pulse enters the solution, it creates microscopic bubbles for a tiny fraction of a second. Those bubbles produce very high temperatures, which solidify the solution. The reaction is localized, resulting in a small voxel.

The rest of the process works like stereolithography 3D printing. The ultrasound transducer moves in the X and Y axes to assemble the solidified voxels into layers, then adds layer after layer until the full 3D object finishes.

While this process is interesting, it has few practical advantages over the other processes in use today. The primary benefit of this process is that the energy source (the ultrasound transducer) can be isolated from the build material (the polymer solution). That could be useful where cleanliness is paramount, such as in clean rooms for fabricating medical devices.

Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles