Advances in Additive Manufacturing (AM) allow for high resolution fabrication of complex three-dimensional structures. This enables the fabrication of tailored workpieces with virtually any shape. Promising applications for this approach are the development of lattices for orthopaedic bone implants, cooling channels inside molds for casting and lightweight parts for the aerospace industry.
However, AM has its own limitations. Currently major issues are the limited materials available for metal printing, limited quality in surface finish and the challenge in printing thin features (typically below few hundred-microns thick features).
Electro-polishing (EP), as post-processing step, is an effective way to eliminate surface asperities. A significant decrease in surface roughness could be easily obtained after EP of various materials (Titanium alloys Ti6Al4V, Aluminium AlSi10Mg and stainless-steel EOS Stainless Steel PH1). Results of this post-process applied on metal AM parts with hard-to-reach small inner channels are presented as well.
To address the issue of printing thin features, we propose a novel approach able to produce ultra-thin and light metal parts of complex shapes. The process starts by printing a plastic part which is subsequently made conductive by electroless plating. By electroforming a part of controlled thickness and surface roughness can be created. Dissolving the plastic part allows in a last step the creation of self-standing ultra-light metal parts with high surface finish and high complexity.
- Identify electrochemical processes for advanced manufacturing of high precision metal products.
- Gain insight in a novel approach to fabricate complex ultra-thin metal parts.
- Learn about alternative post-processing technologies for metal additive manufactured parts.