The New SonicLayer 1200 – Smaller Footprint and Great Price!


In-space manufacturing has gained attention with the advent of 3D printing that allows generic feedstock to be molded into seemingly any shape imaginable.  By stocking a few key feedstocks, 3D printing can be used in far reaching places to create repair parts or even generate new structures.  With unique safety, weight, and power considerations, printing with metal in space has many challenges. Recently, Fabrisonic worked on a NASA SBIR PH II program to scale down Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) for possible use on the International Space Station (ISS). UAM is a solid-state 3D printing process–meaning there is no melting during printing and the formation temperatures are low. This means that UAM avoids many of the safety concerns found with powder based printing processes.

The output of the first year of research is a small scale UAM system that retains all the great features of their larger counterparts:

  • Low Temperature Welding – Ultrasonic welding happens near room temperature with no changes in microstructure or metal temper
  • Common Feedstocks – UAM systems utilize commercially available metal foils
  • Hybrid Approach – As with all Fabrisonic systems, the SonicLayer 1200 has both an additive stage and a subtractive stage meaning all surfaces, internal and external, have CNC quality surface finish and accuracy.
  • Dissimilar Metals – The solid-state nature of UAM allows all Fabrisonic systems to weld dissimilar metals within a single part without adverse metallurgical reactions.
  • Embedding Electronics – The hybrid approach coupled with the low-temperature welding allows SonicLayer systems the ability to embed electronics or sensors anywhere in solid metal parts

For years, Fabrisonic customers have asked for a smaller UAM machine that could be purchased with less capital cost.  At RAPID 2019, Fabrisonic released the new SonicLayer 1200 with a list under $200k.  The new smaller system has a work envelope of 10”x12” and runs off of industry standard G-code.  The SonicLayer 1200 is ideal for research and development labs in industry and academia.

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3D Printing Myth Debunked: “6061 and Other Aerospace Aluminums Can’t Be 3D Printed”

Common industry wisdom would have you believe that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to print with aerospace aluminum such as 6061 and 7075.  For most 3D printing technologies that rely on melting of powders or wires, this is true.

Disadvantages of 3D Printing Aerospace Aluminums with Most 3D Printing Processes

  • During high energy melting of aluminum alloys, critical constituents can boil off leaving the resultant 3D printed part out of chemistry specs and thus weaker.
  • Aluminums high reflectivity requires higher energy and causes specific issues with printer optics.
  • High thermal gradients in 3D printing can lead to liquation cracking during solidification.
  • Metal 3D printing technologies that rely on melting produce aluminum parts in a less-than-optimized temper. This requires several heat treating steps after printing that can lead to the release of residual stress (aka – warping like a potato chip).

Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) Eliminates Common Aerospace 3D Printing Issues

There are great research programs ongoing in the industry to overcome one or more of the above problems.  However, solid state 3D printing processes already avoid ALL of these common issues.  Fabrisonic’s Ultrasonic Additive printing technique welds metal layers near room temperature.   UAM utilizes a solid-state ultrasonic bonding mechanism that has minimal effect to a metal’s microstructure (unlike comparable powder-based fusion printing processes).

The solid-state bond in this technique permits the joining of precipitation hardened alloys without the metallurgical issues seen in other additive processes (2024, 5052, 6061, 7075, etc).  The low-temperature bond has little effect on bulk grain size and does not drive any change in precipitate size.   A wide range of aluminums can be printed with incoming feedstock already in the desirable T6 condition.  This means that parts are ready for use directly out of the printer without the need for heat treatment.



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