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Metal Inducted into 3D Printing Revolution

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

A Singapore-based photonics company has unveiled a unique manufacturing technology that’s poised to turn the metal fabrication world on its ear.

Zecotek Photonics Inc., an 11-year-old organization that’s made a name for itself developing such electromagnetic and light-energy-based projects as high-performance scintillation crystals, photodetectors, positron emission tomography scanning technologies, and 3D auto-stereoscopic displays, has this time succeeded with a revolutionary new manufacturing technology for metal powders and 3D printers.

Zecotek’s wholly-owned subsidiary Zecotek Display Systems Pte. Ltd., in partnership with the Institute of Chemical Physics and Greek-Armenian research, development and production company LT-Pyrkal, has developed this novel approach to manufacturing using metal hydrides synthesis.

Laser sintering-based 3D printing is a 3D printing process that uses a laser as an energy source to fuse materials and produce a solid object. Many different materials may be used, including glass, ceramics, and plastic. In this case, metal powder is bound together in layers to create 3D pieces.

Traditionally, metal powder manufacturing calls for effort-heavy operations to prepare hydrides (any of a class of chemical compounds in which hydrogen is combined with another element), along with the use of expensive fine metal powder under hydrogenation. The inclusion of the 3D printer in this method shrinks the labour element significantly.

More than that, other “significant advantages” Zecotek claims its unique 3D printing method boasts over traditional techniques include high productivity, superior quality of synthesized hydride, appreciably lower energy consumption, and ecological purity.

“The quest for cheap and available powders of refractory metals has been long and hard, and the 3D industry will value our solution,” Zecotek’s CEO Dr. A. F. Zerrouk has predicted. “Laser sintering-based 3D printing is undoubtedly the technology of the future.”

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