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Precision particle delivery via laser for 3D printing

  1. Jul 12, 2013 #1

    taylaron

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    Gold Member

    Greetings PFers,

    I was thinking about methods of delivering mediums used in 3D printing process, specifically 'selective laser sintering'. Currently SLS uses layers of fine metal powder which are fused together, layer by layer. A new coating of powder is applied every layer. Afterwards, the un-fused powder is then blown off.

    I began to think about Bernoulli's principle and how it might be utilized. Similar to how a ping-pong ball floats in a stream of air (http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/FunLab/DoItYourself/FloatingInAir/FloatingInAir.php)
    What if two lasers of different intensity are used instead? In this situation, there would be a low intensity laser with a larger diameter, and a small diameter and high intensity laser coaxial with the first laser. There would be a difference in air temperature and pressure caused by the photon's interaction with air particles. Therefore, the higher intensity outer beam would be a lower pressure & temperature than the inner beam, mimicking Bernoulli principle.

    Once the beam has been activated, by one means or another, a stream of powder would be injected into the smaller beam, which would be simultaneously propelled by the laser and confined to the laser's path. Once the particles traverse the beam, they fuse onto the part being printed. This would result in a very low mess and conserve material. There would be very little post-processing.

    Despite the engineering challenges, is the concept physically sound or utterly impractical?
    If it is sound, wouldn't it work without the outer laser since the ambient temperature should be a higher pressure and lower temperature than the air exposed to the laser?

    Regards,
    -Tay
     
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