Investigation of Scanning Droplet Cell Technology for Electrochemical Deposition of Custom Three-Dimensional Alloys

Corie Horwood | 22-FS-031

Project Overview

The goal of this project was to assess the feasibility of a new method of electroplating, which we have termed "electroprinting", for fabricating millimeter to centimeter metal parts with full density, and eventually, with bespoke 3D internal density patterns. Alloys, gradients and varying density is beyond the scope of this work, and efforts were focused on developing the technology to be capable of printing solid parts beyond the lines and columns previously reported in the literature. Enabling this technology would expand the design space for the WPD program, allowing for smooth and complex density gradients in parts rather than discrete density steps between multilayers.

We designed and built an electroprinting apparatus capable of printing copper in customizable one-dimensional patterns that can be printed in stacked layers to form 3D parts. We successfully characterized the flat printed patterns; however, we have encountered difficulty in characterizing multilayer prints. We have partially addressed the feasibility question by developing the method for electroprinting 3D parts; however, some questions about the internal porosity and density of these parts still remain.

Mission Impact

This work expands on current capabilities in electroplating to form multilayer structures with discrete density layers. Current capabilities rely on a combination of electroplating and machining steps, whereas the electroprinting technology explored during this research would enable significantly more complex internal density structures, as well as complex gradients between different density regions. Expanding the design space for materials formed with varying density layers and gradients will strengthen LLNL's national security mission.

Publications, Presentations, and Patents

Horwood, C. "3D Electroprinting of Metals: towards Custom 3D Graded Metal Parts." 24th Target Fabrication Specialists Meeting, Virtual. June 7, 2022.

Horwood, C. "Past, Present and Future of Electroplating Research at LLNL for New Target Designs." General Atomics Next Gen Target Seminar Series, Virtual. May 3, 2022.

Horwood, C, "Electroplating Outside the Box," LLNL Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program Seminar Series, Virtual. July 12, 2022.