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Digital transformation in Manufacturing III

Material jetting printing head. Image credit: All3DP

4. Material Jetting

The material jetting additive manufacturing technology is very similar to the ones already discussed, the difference is in the material used. Here the material has to be photosensitive (to UV light) whilst in the previous technology the material was either glued by a special chemical or fused/melted by heath.

The process starts by printing on a surface a liquid resin, warmed up to 40 to 60 degrees (Celsius) in form of tiny droplets using ink-jet like nozzles. These are disposed on a line that moves over the surface. Each nozzle prints a specific material, part of that is material that can be dissolved (used to create empty spaces in the object being printed). The droplets are fused with the nearby droplets (both the one on the side that have been printed at the same time and with the one on the layer previously printed) using UV light. This layering is repeated as many times as needed to create the final object. The object is then immersed into a solvent that will get rid of the filling materials deposited to create empty space.

The use of liquid material allows a very high precision with a layer thickness as low as 0.013mm and a resolution better than 0.1mm. More evolution is expected through the use of nanoparticles in the liquid ink. This has already been used to manufacture printed electronics (printed circuits).

Additionally, this technology is being used in healthcare to print … organs.

In this case the “material” is an ink made of living cells, infrastructure material like calcium for printing bones and collagen.

The evolution in Material Jetting will lower the cost and increase speed, watch the clip.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.