Photoelectrodeposition for 3D Printing

In summary, the conversation focuses on the potential of using laser-enhanced electroplating or electroforming as a method for 3D printing metal parts on a macroscopic scale. This approach could potentially be cheaper and faster than existing metal 3D printers, as it does not require a build chamber to be under vacuum or filled with an inert gas. The conversation also mentions the use of UV-curable liquid polymer and the development of laser-enhanced electroplating processes. The limitations and potential applications of this technology are also discussed.
  • #1
sanman
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3D printers are receiving a lot of attention in the news these days, because they are seen to be a potential disruptive technology. However, most devices of this type are very limited in the materials they can work with, mainly fabricating models in plastics like PLA or ABS. Advanced high-end models which do work with metal (eg. Selective Laser Sintering or Electron Beam Melting) require a build chamber to either be under vacuum or else filled with an inert gas, in order to prevent oxidation of the metal being used to form the part/model.

Could laser-accelerated electroplating or electroforming be used as the basis for a 3D printing approach which additively fabricates macroscopic parts or models from metal? I emphasize macroscopic, because the method already seems to have been investigated for fabricating metal microstructures - but I'd like to know why it couldn't be used in conjunction with stereolithography to make larger metal structures on the order of many centimeters in length width and height?

Consider for a moment the much-heralded FormLabs Form1 3D stereolithography printer, which can manufacture plastic models using a UV-laser to solidify a UV-curable liquid polymer. A thin layer of liquid polymer is hit from below by the lasers, causing it to solidify wherever hit, and the resulting shape is slowly pulled out of that liquid layer from above:







It seems to me that a similar approach could be taken by using the method of laser-enhanced electroplating, and substituting the UV-curable liquid polymer for a solution of metal ions. By controlling where the lasers hit, an electroformed metal shape could be created and slowly pulled from the liquid layer from above.Now take a look at this:

http://books.google.ca/books?id=j3O...epage&q=laser enhanced electroforming&f=false

The development of laser-enhanced electroplating process offers a promising technique for high-speed and mask-less selective plating and/or as a repair and engineering design change scheme for microcircuits [300, 325-28]. For this, temperature is used to modify the position of the equilibrium potential in a localized region so that electro-deposition is driven by the potential difference between this region and the non-irradiated regions. Use of a focused argon laser beam (488nm) in an acid copper solution provided plating rates as high as 25µm/s [300]. Bindra et al [327, 328] discussed the mechanism of laser-enhanced acid copper plating and Paatsch et al [329] reported on laser-induced deposition of copper on p-type silicon. It was demonstrated that the increase in the plating rate under laser illumination results principally from photo-induced heating of the electrode surface [328].
I think a 3D printer based on electroplating/electroforming would be cheaper than existing metal 3D printers using SLS or EBM, because it doesn't require your build chamber to be under vacuum, or filled with an inert gas. And a theoretical build speed of 25µm/s seems quite significant - that's 1mm every 40 seconds, or 1cm every 400 seconds. Theoretically, you could print a 30cm tall model made of metal in 200 minutes - put all those old pennies to good use. Even if your real-world speed was only half that, it would still be quite competitive with existing 3D printing systems.

It seems to me that a 3D electroplating approach could bring 3D printing of metal parts into the home consumer market. After all, there are plenty of consumer-level home-electroplating kits sold to for people who plate their own jewelry, etc. So electroplating is not some exotic technology, and electroforming is just electroplating taken to greater lengths/thicknesses.

I'd like to know what if any limitations exist which would prevent or hinder laser-accelerated electroplating/electroforming from being scaled up from fabrication of microstructures to macro-sized metal parts.
 
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  • #2
I have been wondering about this as well, either by way of laser beams or perhaps an electron beam.
 

Related to Photoelectrodeposition for 3D Printing

1. What is photoelectrodeposition for 3D printing?

Photoelectrodeposition is a process that combines the principles of both 3D printing and electrodeposition. It involves using light to initiate a chemical reaction that deposits thin layers of metal onto a substrate, creating a 3D object.

2. How does photoelectrodeposition differ from traditional 3D printing methods?

Unlike traditional 3D printing methods, which use melted plastics or resins to create objects, photoelectrodeposition utilizes a chemical reaction to deposit metal layers. This allows for greater precision and control in the printing process.

3. What materials can be used in photoelectrodeposition for 3D printing?

Photoelectrodeposition can be used with a variety of metals, including copper, nickel, silver, and gold. It can also be used with alloys, such as brass and bronze.

4. What are the potential applications of photoelectrodeposition for 3D printing?

Photoelectrodeposition has a wide range of potential applications, including in the creation of microelectronic devices, sensors, and biomedical implants. It can also be used in the production of custom jewelry and other small metal objects.

5. What are the benefits of using photoelectrodeposition for 3D printing?

One of the main benefits of photoelectrodeposition is its ability to create highly detailed and precise objects. It also allows for the use of a variety of materials, making it a versatile method for 3D printing. Additionally, it is a relatively fast and low-cost process compared to other 3D printing methods.

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