Inkjet printing in micro-manufacturing: opportunities and limitations
Professor Ian Hutchings, GKN Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at the IfM, discusses the possibilities of using ink-jet printing technology for manufacturing very small things out of metal, ceramics and polymers.
Ink-jet printing provides a family of mask-less digital processes for the controlled deposition of materials in liquid form. A wide range of materials, including metals, ceramics and polymers, can be deposited, and several process routes apart from direct additive deposition can be used.
In this interview, Professor Hutchings discusses methods by which the various classes of materials can be deposited, and their applications to micro-manufacturing. It is concluded that most attention has so far been paid to thin-film products, and that the potential of ink-jet processes for the fabrication of 3D products has yet to be developed.