The Paul Scherrer Institute is utilizing 3D technology to visualize meltpools in three dimensions, as reported by 3DPrinting.com.

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3D Printing’s Next Frontier: Tomography Provides 3D Insights into Ceramic Printing

3D printing has become a game-changer in the manufacturing industry, allowing for the creation of complex shapes and structures. However, when it comes to printing ceramics using lasers, the process becomes much more challenging. Thankfully, researchers at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have recently made significant progress in understanding this complex manufacturing process through tomography.

Traditional 3D printing, especially in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical, relies on laser-based powder bed fusion (LPBF). This technique involves layering fine powder on a substrate and melting it with a laser to form the desired shape, layer by layer. While 2D X-ray images have been used in the past to study the process, the researchers at PSI wanted to go a step further and visualize it in 3D.

The breakthrough came when the researchers decided to use aluminum oxide, a hard and brittle ceramic material, for their experiments. Overcoming the challenges of rapid rotation and preventing material dispersion, they were able to successfully track the ceramic printing process in 3D. To achieve this, they utilized a high-speed camera and microscope to capture an astonishing 100 3D images per second, revealing the surprising behavior of the melt pool.

One of the most significant advantages of their approach was the ability to observe the formation of pores and hollows as the ceramic material solidified. This understanding is crucial for future applications of 3D ceramic printing, as it provides insights into how to prevent defects and improve structural integrity. However, it’s important to note that practical applications of this research may still be a ways off.

As the machine at the institute undergoes upgrades, the researchers anticipate expanding their capabilities for studying denser materials with higher resolution. This will be a significant step forward in advancing LPBF technology, opening up even more possibilities for innovation and improvement in the field of 3D printing.

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In conclusion, tomography has unlocked a new realm of understanding in 3D ceramic printing, offering insights into the microscopic intricacies of the process. This breakthrough brings us one step closer to improving LPBF technology and revolutionizing the manufacturing industry.

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