Some people cook by some inherent sense or knowledge, throwing ingredients into a bowl willy nilly with nary a thought of opening up a cookbook; later, of course, the dish turns out great. I, however, am not one of these people, and require a recipe in front of me at all times to make sure everything comes out just right. The same could be said for 3D printing jobs, which is why 3D printer suppliers are increasingly creating additive manufacturing materials recipe books of their own. Optomec is introducing over two dozen starter recipes to customers for its two patented 3D printing technologies: LENS, for metal 3D printing, and Aerosol Jet, used to 3D print electronics. The recipes, which were developed by the company’s application experts, are being released in order to help customers get their additive manufacturing solutions implemented faster. Customers can use the starter recipes to leverage the advanced features of LENS and Aerosol Jet printers to get high-quality results – the recipes will help users choose and process the perfect metal and electronics materials to meet their specific requirements.
All of the recipes have been tested and pre-qualified, so customers won’t have to waste time on frustrating trial and error processes and can just get right to work. Both of Optomec’s additive manufacturing solutions work with a wide range of functional materials, and have been used by the industry to improve performance and reduce the cost of 3D printed parts. Due to the company’s modular LENS Print Engine, its LENS technology can integrate with CNC machining systems, which sets it apart from other metal 3D printing methods. The LENS Material Starter Recipes were designed so Optomec customers can “achieve optimal use of metal 3D printing with LENS.”
LENS systems can process multiple metals, including titanium, stainless steel, tool steel, nickel-based superalloys, and inconel, all of which are available in powder form. If you look at the recipes, you’ll find detailed instructions, complete with images, that explain machine set-up, powder feedstock characteristics, and print job processing parameters, including print speed, laser power, and powder feed rates.
You can also find geometry-specific recipes that have been perfected for structures of both small and large volume, as well as thin-wall structures. The recipes also have SEM and optical images that show the morphology and microstructure of samples that have already been printed using the recipes. An independent lab tested samples made using the recipes for mechanical performance, in accordance with ASTM standards, so data regarding each recipe’s mechanical performance is also included.
Ken Vartanian, the Vice President of Marketing at Optomec, said, “These proven, pre-qualified recipes save weeks of trial and error while also enabling customers to fully leverage the advanced features of our printers to produce quality results. Over the years we have screened hundreds of materials from a variety of suppliers and now want to make this knowledge available to our customers. These printing recipes represent an important first step in our strategy to provide digital products that facilitate additive manufacturing capabilities from design through volume manufacturing.”
When it comes to integrating electronics and 3D printing, optimization for certain applications, as well as proper material selection, is vitally important for print jobs made with Optomec’s Aerosol Jet technology, which can be used to print electronics at the micron level. Experts with the company’s Aerosol Jet Advanced Applications Lab included detailed information about equipment set-up and process settings, substrate preparation, ink types, and print parameters in the Aerosol Jet Starter Recipes, which are available for conductive materials such as copper, silver, and resistive inks, and dielectric and adhesive materials like Polyimide, Dymax, PEDOT, and Loctite.
The Aerosol Jet recipes have print and cure instructions regarding specialized material handling, and in-situ or post-processing curing procedures, and the expected electrical and environmental performance data is also included. You can also find expected print results, including line width and thickness, for certain print speeds and nozzle types. For example, the recipe gives parameters such as the suggested substrate, bath temperature, and atomizer flow rate for the silver print example.
Will you try any of Optomec’s starter recipes? Let us know in the Optomec Starter Recipe forum thread at 3DPB.com.[All images: Optomec]