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Vader 3D Printer Outputs Molten Metal

by Paul Strauss

I’m a big fan of the whole 3D printing phenomenon, and really excited about the rapid development and growth of the technology. While most 3D printers work on the same principal – a moving print head that melts plastic – the Vader printer will be able to print using metal.

vader_3d_printer_prototypezoom in

Scott and Zackery Vader (yes, that’s their actual last name) have developed the Vader – a liquid metal based 3D printer.┬áThis printer actually prints directly with molten metal, similarly to 3D printers that output plastic. Its thermal chamber melts down aluminum, then extrudes the hot metal onto a moving, magnetized printing bed. One interesting differentiator is that the Vaders say they’ll be able to build a version with a multi-nozzle print head, similar to those which work on ink jet printers. This could substantially decrease print times.

vader_3d_metal_printerzoom in

There are print methods that can use metal today, but most of them involve printing a wax mold, then pouring molten metal into the cast. There are also laser sintering techniques which fuse metal powder into a shape. As far as I know, the Vader is the first 3D printer to print directly with molten aluminum. This method allows for 100% metal density, as well as parts with hollow areas inside.

At this point, the team has an early prototype, which has all of the components – except the all-critical print head, but they say they’re confident in their invention. They intend on completing R&D of the liquid metal jet process and a working prototype by the end of the year. After this, they expect to produce a small business version, priced “between $10,000 and $50,000″ and down the road they hope to release a prosumer grade Vader printer for under $10,000.

[via Tom’s Guide and Inhabitat]




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