Fabrisonic has introduced a new hybrid 3D printer that combines ultrasonic 3D printing with CNC milling, called the SonicLayer 1600.
The Uniqueness of Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM)
Fabrisonic utilizes one of the most unusual 3D printing processes, known as “Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing” (UAM). This method is entirely different from other 3D printing processes because it doesn’t involve significant heat or chemical reactions, yet it can produce metal parts.
The UAM concept involves placing sheets of metal together and applying high-frequency vibrations to the material. These vibrations cause a form of ultrasonic welding to occur, where molecules bond together without generating notable heat. This process is unique since the metal materials aren’t thermally transformed, unlike most other metal 3D printing processes.
Joining Dissimilar Materials and Custom Material Design
Another incredible feature of UAM is its ability to join dissimilar materials. Fabrisonic explains:
“This capability enables Fabrisonic to print custom materials to design a material with a given material property. For instance, layers of Aluminum and Titanium can be combined to produce an armor product that is lightweight but has sufficient ballistic performance.”
Introducing the SonicLayer 1600
Materials are applied in sheets, which implies the presence of a CNC mill to shave off unwanted portions of each layer after bonding. Such capabilities are available in the company’s flagship machine, the SonicLayer 4000 Hybrid machine.
Fabrisonic has now announced a new 3D printer using the same processes but in a smaller package. The SonicLayer 1600 includes both ultrasonic and milling functions, making it possible to build finished metal parts easily.
The SonicLayer 1600 has a build volume of 368 x 368 x 432 mm, which is quite large compared to typical desktop 3D printers.
The SonicLayer 1600 includes the ultrasonic feature and a CNC milling head powered by a 9kW motor. Fabrisonic explains:
“The SonicLayer 1600 is the ideal fabrication platform for manufacturing operations that require the production of products and devices that involve printing dissimilar metals, embedding sensors, or creating smooth, complex internal pathways and geometries – or all three. The SonicLayer 1600 brings a level of capability to a mid-sized CNC/milling platform that can be found nowhere else.”
This move by Fabrisonic lowers the financial barrier to using UAM technology. The SonicLayer 4000, while big and capable, is more expensive than the SonicLayer 1600, enabling many more customers to explore the unique world of UAM.