Metal 3d printing is about to get faster thanks to dissolving supports


Metal 3D printing is fast on its way to becoming a mainstay option for heavy duty industrial 3D printing. But, it can be a laborious process involving copious amounts of post-processing.

However, an assistant professor of 3D Nanofabrication at Arizona State University (ASU) might have a solution. The man behind this development is Owen Hildreth., who has a mechanical engineering degree and Ph.D. in nanofabrication materials engineering.

However, he didn’t turn his mind to it until dropping in on a talk by visiting professor, Timothy Simpson, who posed: “If anyone knows of a water-soluble metal we could use for metal AM support structures, talk to me afterwards.”

Simpson is a research professor at Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition.

He wasn’t expecting Hildreth’s response of: “Well, any metal could be dissolved if you control the local chemical environment — it’s just the oxide surface layer (produced regardless of the specific AM metal technology) that gets in the way.”