Creating Complex Hollow Metal Geometries Using Additive Manufacturing and Metal Plating
McCarthy, David Lee
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Additive manufacturing introduces a new design paradigm that allows the fabrication of geometrically complex parts that cannot be produced by traditional manufacturing and assembly methods. Using a cellular heat exchanger as a motivational example, this thesis investigates the creation of a hybrid manufacturing approach that combines selective laser sintering with an electroforming process to produce complex, hollow, metal geometries. The developed process uses electroless nickel plating on laser sintered parts that then undergo a flash burnout procedure to remove the polymer, leaving a complex, hollow, metal part. The resulting geometries cannot be produced directly with other additive manufacturing systems. Copper electroplating and electroless nickel plating are investigated as metal coating methods. Several parametric parts are tested while developing a manufacturing process. Copper electroplating is determined to be too dependent on the geometry of the part, with large changes in plate thickness between the exterior and interior of the tested parts. Even in relatively basic cellular structures, electroplating does not plate the interior of the part. Two phases of electroless nickel plating combined with a flash burnout procedure produce the desired geometry. The tested part has a density of 3.16g/cm3 and withstands pressures up to 25MPa. The cellular part produced has a nickel plate thickness of 800Âµm and consists of 35% nickel and 65% air (empty space). Detailed procedures are included for the electroplating and electroless plating processes developed.
- Masters Theses