Additive Manufacture of Novel Multi-functional Metal Matrix Composites by Ultrasonic Consolidation

Main Content

The aim of this project is to realise new multifunctional components by the freeform integration of electrical circuitry within dense metal components processed in the solid-state. This will allow the fabrication of novel engineered components that have been previously unobtainable as a result of the solid state nature of the Ultrasonic Consolidation (UC) process that will allow the integration of a wide variety of components due to the absence of elevated bulk temperatures. The printing of dielectric and conductive mediums, singularly and in unison, onto inter-laminar UC foil surfaces and their related surface geometry, and the effect on these by UC processing, is being investigated.

This work is enabled by close collaboration with industrial partners PEL, who have well established facilities and expertise to enable the rapid initiation and assessment of this key element. As this develops we will then be able to feed into and incorporate the new relevant facilities through the conductive jetting project as they become established at the University of Nottingham. This will allow us to further develop our avenues of investigation while continuing our industry partnership with PEL.

So far, we have been successful in providing a stock of samples for the experimental work. Appropriate experimental samples have also been produced to feed into the project on jetting of conductive and dielectric elements. Moreover, we have demonstrated the fundamental viability of electrical circuitry printing (comprising of dielectric/conductive/ dielectric) onto UC surfaces. This is continuing with various different conductive copper and silver based inks and dielectrics and deposition methods. Early pilot studies have also indicated the ability to print the dielectric/conductive/dielectric laminate onto the UC texture and then encapsulate this within a UC structure. Assessment of electrical functionality post-encapsulation now needs to be investigated.

Although the work is at an early stage, and publication of many areas would be premature, project aspects have been disseminated at international conferences. In terms of staff, Dr Ross Friel has successfully obtained a lectureship in the Additive Manufacturing Group at Loughborough. He is to be replaced by a new post-doctoral research associate from RWTH Aachen.

Project Team (Researchers)

Dr Ji Li (Loughborough University)

Co - Investigators

Prof Russ Harris, Prof Phill Dickens, Prof Ian Ashcroft, Dr Ross Friel, Dr Chris Tuck