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Printing furniture with liquid metal

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Could liquid metal revolutionize manufacturing? MIT researchers believe so. Their approach to 3D printing with molten metal has the potential to be fast, low cost, and recyclable, reshaping production timelines and making manufacturing more sustainable.

“Their technique, called liquid metal printing (LMP), involves depositing molten aluminum along a predefined path into a bed of tiny glass beads. The aluminum quickly hardens into a 3D structure.”

liquid metal in glass bead sand

“‘If we could make this machine something that people could actually use to melt down recycled aluminum and print parts, that would be a game-changer in metal manufacturing. Right now, it is not reliable enough to do that, but that’s the goal,’ [founder and co-director of the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT, Professor Skylar] Tibbits says.”

Printing with metals isn’t new, but this molten process is reportedly less susceptible to cracking and warping.

3D printing objects with liquid metal
The speed and scale at which this additive manufacturing process operates come at the expense of high-resolution and refined details.

Despite this, the existing technology could be suitable for applications without intricate details, quickly produce unseen components, expanding on aesthetic expectations, or printing rapid prototypes using recycled or scrap metal.

the resulting 3D printed metal structure in the lab
Watch more 3D printing, aluminum, and furniture videos from TKSST’s collections, including:
β€’Β Making a stool from plastic debris found in the open sea
β€’Β Can future robot swarms 3D print entire buildings?
β€’ Upcycling used chopsticks into furniture and more
β€’ Imagine a Chair, an explanation of a Circular Economy
β€’Β The Ingenious Design of the Aluminum Beverage Can
β€’ Pouring 1200F molten aluminum into an anthill (for science)

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