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Experimental study of shape morphing using metal 3D Printing

Ongoing collaboration with the The Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University.

Researching the potential in using the shrinkage of 3D printed metal parts as a trigger to shape changes and transforming 2D thin sheets into 3D products through material programming and sintering.

Metal 3D printing technologies have a property that is usually treated as a challenge – Every part shrinks at around 20% after it is being printed.

The parts are printed with metal nano particles that are held together by a binder to form a "green part". The green part is constructed of metal particles that are held together by the binder but it doesn’t have the properties of solid metal unless it goes through the process of sintering. Throughout the sintering process the binder evaporates and the metal nano particles get closer and fuse together to form a solid metal part. Due to the loss of the binder and the nearing of the nano particles – the parts shrink.

We chose to use this challenge as our mechanism for morphing flat 2D metal sheets into pre-programed 3D shapes.

I used an Omnijet 2D printer to print various patterns with silver and copper inks on top of 2D metal sheets. After printing, the metal sheet with the printed layer are placed in an oven. The areas that have the ink on them go through sintering and therefore they shrink and pull the 2D sheet into a 3D shape that changes according to the printed pattern.

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