Is there an Open Design Group working on electrostatic detection and guidance for 3D liquid metal drop printing?
This is a wonderfully difficult control problem but seems doable at first glance. I certainly don’t need to mention how important this capability would be to our self-replication goals.
Briefly, some of the obvious design points:
A very large number of electrostatic detection plates would first measure the position, velocity, mass and charge on the emitted metal droplets by inducing a sequence of velocity deflections. Then the droplets would be guided upwards and possibly allowed to slow before touching the printed object attached to a cold plate.
Some of the problems are:
- Which inert gas to use, and at what temperature and pressure? The pressure must be high enough to prevent electric discharge between detection and guidance plates but low enough not to slow the droplets or erode their charge.
- How to perform very rapid calculations of the induced charges on the detection plates coming from the droplets, despite huge influences coming from the charges on the guidance plates.
- Similarly, how to perform very rapid calculations of the electric fields coming from the induced charges on the cold printed object hanging from the conductive cold plate. This will be very important because the droplets will be moving rather slowly when they join the object in order to prevent uncontrolled splashing.