Microwave Sintering

Could it really be this simple? Early proof of concept is indicating YES! it is.

TVF Partner Innovator Highball has done some great work with microwave sintering. It is still very new and in the developmental / experimental phase. But you should still know about it. The future of microwave sintering is very bright.

The steps are very similar to what you’re used to…
Bury your print in Refractory Ballast in a Crucible, put that crucible in your heating unit and run a time / temperature profile for debind and sinter.

What’s different with microwave sintering are the tools and the time.
Instead of a kiln, you use a regular microwave.
Instead of the heating elements being located in the microwave, they are a part of the crucible.

Commercially, these crucibles are called Microwave Kilns. They are a standard refractory material lined with silicon carbide.
That silicon carbide concentrates and directs the heat.
It’s very much like a Hot Pocket. You put the cardboard sleeve around the Hot Pocket and that carboard sleeve has a special lining that concentrates the heat.

An example of calibrating a microwave

The first step is to calibrate your microwave so you understand the temperatures it can reach with your microwave kiln.
Put your empty microwave kiln in the microwave.
Run the microwave at lower power for 5 minutes, then test the temperature of the microwave kiln.
Next run it for more minutes and test, etc.
Then do all of that again at medium power, then again at high power.

As of this writing, the only material that has been debound and sintered using this method is Aluminum 6061 Filamet™. The process is open for experimentation!

Take a look at Highball’s full range of experiments: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYQ3_mr24wVhkhkzt7q1ePYv-DY39eFRt

TVF’s recent webinar about Microwave Sintering has lots of information in it as well.

Here, you’ll see Highball’s microwave calibration:

Estimates: 10/13/22
LOW: ~6°F/min, ~200°F max
M-LOW: ~10°F/min, ~600°F max
MEDIUM: ~16.5°F/min, ~1200°F max
HIGH: ~22°F/min, ~1800°F max

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