Liquid Metal 3D Printing
Kyle Maxey posted on July 11, 2013 | 9738 views

North Carolina, metal, 3d printing, metal, room temperature, liquid metal, oxide, gallium, indiumThe technology to 3D print metal has been around for a while. But to lay down consecutive layers of metal, one fused to another, usually requires extremely high temperatures – until now.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have create a 3D printing technology that creates free-standing structures from liquid metal at room temperature.

According to Michael Dickey, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, “It’s difficult to create structures out of liquids, because liquids want to bead up. But we’ve found that a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium reacts to the oxygen in the air at room temperature to form a ‘skin’ that allows the liquid metal structures to retain their shapes”.

During the course of their research, the NC State team developed two techniques for printing metal at room temperature. The first technique involves stacking liquid metal drops on top of one another. As the droplets come into contact they adhere to each other while retaining their shape.

The second technique injects liquid metal into a previously created mold to give the liquid a pre-determined shape. Once the liquid metal cures, the mold is dissolved leaving only a solid metal configuration.

While still in the initial stages of development, Dickey and his team are investigating further applications for their new method of 3D printing. 

Watch a Video Detailing the NC State 3D Printing Technique

Image and Video Courtesy of North Carolina State University

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