VIDEO: Combining Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing with Ultrasonics
James Anderton posted on June 15, 2017 |

Ultrasonics are a well understood technology in manufacturing, with projection welding, stud welding and there are multiple applications for ultrasonics in both polymer and metallic systems. But what about additive manufacturing?

In the video above, we speak with Mark Norfolk, president and CEO of Fabrisonic about how additive manufacturing can be done with ultrasonics by taking thin foils of metal and ultrasonically welding them together, layer by layer to develop a part.

“We have a proprietary patented design of a roller which rolls over the foil back and forth and vibrates as its rolling, giving us the scrubbing action we need to make the bond,” Norfolk explained. “The great thing about ultrasound is its low temperature. A part doesn’t need to go above 200° F. With this low temperature, you can combine dissimilar metals in the same part without forming inner metallic or having metallurgical consequences you don’t want.”

With this technique and its low temperatures, Fabrisonic can also embed electronics inside solid parts by dropping a sensor or electronic device on the material, then continuing to weld layer by layer without damage.

In the video, Norfolk demonstrates with a fiber-optic device, sending a laser light through a solid metal part and out the other end.

“From an engineering standpoint, you can use this fiber optic to measure strain or load anywhere in a part, like in the leading edge or spar of a wing,” Norfolk added. “We’re actually extruding metal all of the way around that fiber so it’s completely encapsulated in metal.”

Norfolk explained the process further. “What we’re actually doing is taking an off-the-shelf CNC mill and adding our weld-head to it. Because we have a CNC mill, we’re using standard G-code to drive the machines motion and we’ll print thin foils side by side and then on top of each other in a brick laying pattern to build up a three-dimensional shape.”

With this technique, Fabrisonic prints in near-net shape, just a bit bigger than they need, before using the CNC milling tools to clean up the outside. All internal features are also CNC milled.

Fabrisonic’s largest in-house machine at this time is a 6x6x3ft capacity, but larger capacities are possible.

For more information about Fabrisonic and their technology, visit their website.

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