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Additive Manufacturing by Electrophotography: Challenges and Successes

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3-D printing of complex structures by selective deposition is currently dominated by direct write and inkjet technologies (as utilized in Stratasys, Objet, ZCorp, Voxeljet, and Solidscape systems). Dry toner systems, despite their high productivity and maturity in 2D digital printing, have only been used indirectly for Additive Manufacture (AM) of objects above the micro scale. For over 3 years a European consortium has sought to overcome the inherent challenges of multilayer printing by electrophotography to enable its use in mainstream AM which promises increased deposition efficiency and a means of utilizing materials not amenable to liquid ink formulations. This paper reviews the challenges addressed and demonstrates the progress made including development of a bespoke thermoplastic elastomer toner and the specialized hardware configuration used to print and fuse it into tensile specimens over 50 layers thick which elongated over 500% before failure. Additionally, seeking to reduce oxidation during toner fusing, electrostatic printing and fusing was unsuccessfully attempted in a vacuum and in argon; while printing in a partial vacuum (above 50 kPa) and nitrogen was possible.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.

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