LMM Process for Printing Titanium Smartwatch Housings: A 3D Printing Innovation

Share this story

In a collaborative effort between Incus GmbH and Element22 GmbH, a new development in personalized titanium smartwatch housing production has been achieved through lithography-based metal manufacturing (LMM) technology.

The project, led by Gerald Mitteramskogler and Matthias Scharvogel, delved into the challenges of processing Ti64 in additive manufacturing. The research yielded a feedstock comprising Ti64 powder at a 55Vol% solids loading, which undergoes photopolymerization during light irradiation.

This resulted in green parts with a remarkable 13 MPa green strength, surpassing other sinter-based additive manufacturing processes. This high strength facilitated automated handling during extraction and deposition onto the sintering setter.

The watch housings are 3D printed, sandblasted, then colored. Source: Incus/Element22

Throughout the process of debinding and sintering, the binder experiences thermal decomposition. This leaves a dense and mechanically functional metal powder in its stead. Solid materials with theoretical densities exceeding 99% are achieved using the LMM process. This process also delivers a remarkable surface finish of 2µm Ra (as-sintered) and a resolution of 35 µm.

In addition, an innovative low-carbon photopolymer-based binder system was developed alongside a tailored thermal processing route for Ti64. The resulting Ti64 exhibited mechanical properties that not only met but exceeded the ASTM F2885-17 standards for applications in the realm of medical implants.

There are benefits to mass customization via LMM. Notably, it provides MIM-like quality parts in a matter of hours. This greatly decreases the amount of time it takes to get products to the market. This is especially the case for high-quality prototypes and mass customization. Incus’ HammerPro40 AM machine showcases the ability to build up to sixteen watch cases in less than 2 and a half hours. This machine boasts an annual production capacity of roughly 35,000 pieces.

“With a fully customized smartwatch housing, we can achieve a competitive cost structure compared to traditional manufacturing technologies, especially when designs can no longer be realized with MIM or CNC.” said Mitteramskogler. This achievement is about more than manufacturing efficiency; it’s a shift in the bounds of what’s possible.

The successful application of LMM in titanium smartwatch housing production represents a significant leap in manufacturing efficiency and cost-effectiveness. As the industry continues to evolve, the future holds promise for quicker prototyping and mass customization, paving the way for a new era in smartwatch design and production – especially with exotic metals.

Come and let us know your thoughts on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, and don’t forget to sign up for our weekly additive manufacturing newsletter to get all the latest stories delivered right to your inbox.

Original source

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *