While 3D-printed metal items are certainly possible, the molding of such items does not always achieve the submillimeter accuracy required for some applications. However, a new technology allows them to make unlimited adjustments after printing. The technique, developed by scientists at the University of Saarland in Germany, uses a vibrating, face-down, probe-like tool to inject electrolyte solution spituating from its tip.
The tool is moved to the target position to allow the liquid to come into contact with the surface of the 3D printed metal part of the target position. The high-voltage current then passes through the solution, runs from the tool, and enters the object. This causes tiny metal particles to fall off the surface of the object. By changing the duration of the pulse and the frequency of the vibration, the amount of metal removed can be finely controlled. The result is a smooth surface object with a precise shape of several thousandths of a millimeter.
So far, the technology has been successfully tested on relatively complex parts printed in 3D by metals such as aluminum, titanium and steel.
“Our add-on processing metal parts post-processing technology provides a cost-effective way to produce applications with high-precision functional surfaces for applications with very high tolerance requirements,” said lead scientist Professor Dirk B?hre. “It enables a large number of parts to be reprocessed efficiently and cost-effectively. “