Researchers from Waseda University, Japan, generated this metal-plastic hybrid method that prints 3D pieces using catalyst-loaded filament and electroless plating. In general, the proposed hybrid 3D printing technology has several advantages, such as:
- Area-selective metallization
- Compatibility with regular FFF 3D printing
- No damage to the printed structure
- Environmental friendliness
The WU professor leading this study, explains their main purpose:
How this hybrid 3D printing technology works
Basically, the new technology is capable of metalizing selected areas of 3D printed pieces made of ABS. While one of the dual nozzles is used to extrude standard ABS, the second one extrudes ABS loaded with palladium chloride (PdCl2). Then, the 3D printed structure is directly immersed in a nickel electroless plating bath. Finally, we obtain this plastic object with a metallic coating over selected areas only.
Using a fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer, scientists load specific areas of the 3D object with PdCl2
WU researchers found the adhesion of the metal coating to be much higher than the results from the conventional metallization process. As a matter of fact, the conventional approach produces a metallic coating that is non-uniform and adheres poorly to the objects. Moreover, their approach is entirely compatible with existing fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printers.
Lastly, unlike the conventional method, this technology doesn’t require any type of roughening or etching of the ABS structure to promote the deposition of the catalyst. The results are hybrid pieces that do not need the use of toxic chemicals like chromic acid.
Considering its potential use in 3D electronics, which is the focus of upcoming IoT and AI applications, metal-plastic hybrid 3D printing it’s already significant.
We expect that this study breaks the ice for a hybrid 3D printing technique that will allow the community to get the best of both metal and plastic materials.
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