Sound Waves Drive 3D Printing of Metals

Dec. 8, 2015
Ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM) is a solid-state 3D-printing process for metals that uses sound waves to merge layers of metal foil.
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Fabrisonic uses ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM), which is a solid-state 3D-printing process for metals that uses sound waves to merge layers of metal foil. The process produces true metallurgical bonds with full density and works with a variety of metals, including but not limited to aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and titanium.

The UAM process involves building up solid metal objects through ultrasonically welding a succession of metal tapes into a three-dimensional shape, to create the detailed features of the resultant object. The rolling ultrasonic welding system consists of ultrasonic transducers and a (welding) horn. The vibrations of the transducers are transmitted to the disk-shaped welding horn, which in turn creates an ultrasonic solid-state weld between the thin metal tape and baseplate. The continuous rolling of the horn over the plate welds the entire tape to the plate.

By welding a succession of tapes, first side-by-side and then one on top of the other (making sure to stagger layers so that the seams do not overlap), it is possible to build a solid metal part. A machining operation adds features to the part, remove excess tape material, and true up the top surface for the next stage of welds. Thus, the so-called “additive manufacturing” involves both additive and subtractive steps to arrive at a final part shape.

About the Author

Jeff Kerns | Technology Editor

Studying mechanical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), he worked in the Polymer Research Lab. Utilizing RIT’s co-op program Jeff worked for two aerospace companies focusing on drafting, quality, and manufacturing for aerospace fasteners and metallurgy. He also studied abroad living in Dubrovnik, Croatia. After college, he became a commissioning engineer, traveling the world working on precision rotary equipment. Then he attended a few masters courses at the local college, and helped an automation company build equipment.

Growing up in Lancaster County, PA he always liked to tinker, build, and invent. He is ecstatic to be at Machine Design Magazine in New York City and looks forward to producing valuable information in the mechanical industry. 

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