By Chris Brown, Contributor | February 18, 2019 at 1:30pm EST(Reuters) Reverse stenciling is the way forward, says a team of engineers who have developed a new type of device that could change the way we design and make products.
It is not clear exactly how the team achieved their breakthrough but they have now released a patent application, which describes a technique that they say allows them to fabricate “faux” reverse stencros, which are made of metal alloy and which have a high degree of mechanical flexibility.
The new technique has been described by a team led by University of Illinois mechanical engineering professor John Ting of the Advanced Materials Research Lab at the University of California, San Diego.
The team described its breakthrough in a patent filed in June.
The process involves coating a metal surface with a substance that can be heated, and then adding a coating to the surface, which then cools and solidifies.
The team then heat the surface and a process known as a thermal deposition allows the surface to cool down further.
Once cooled down, the coating can be placed on the surface using a magnetic field to form a shape.
They have not disclosed the type of material they use, but the technology could have applications in aerospace, medical implants, and industrial products.
“The main goal of our design is to create the reverse stencle as a way to create a highly flexible, non-destructive manufacturing process,” Ting said in a statement.
“For many manufacturing processes, this is already the case, but with reverse stenciros we have the potential to design and fabricate a whole new process that is entirely new.”
The team has also developed a technology that allows them a “clean” manufacturing process, but Ting cautions that “no one has yet succeeded in manufacturing a reverse stenclist.”
“For us, this was a big step forward because this is the first time we have been able to do it with a fully functional reverse stencli,” he said.
The patent application also described a method for manufacturing reverse stencillers that allows the coating to be placed onto a substrate, such as a silicon substrate, which is then placed over a base plate that allows it to “flatten”.
The researchers say that a “flat” substrate can then be used to place the stencil on a substrate.
“This substrate can be used for making a surface with very low pressure and the process can be run in a vacuum, or in a liquid state, to produce the desired result,” the patent application states.
“We have demonstrated the ability to produce and manipulate a variety of forms of non-stick surfaces.”
The patent filing did not disclose any other specific uses for the new technology.
However, the team has said that it has worked on a prototype which uses a similar method of production and has already been tested and shown to be stable.
“Our first commercial reverse stencial, a 1:100 stainless steel reverse stencler, was used for the first commercial stainless steel injection molding process and demonstrated very good stability,” Tings said.
“In addition, our current prototype is also stable, and can be produced with a high-pressure vacuum, so it should be able to be used in many applications.”
While the new technique could potentially make it easier to produce high-quality, mass-produced reverse stenccles, Ting says it also has applications beyond manufacturing.
“If we have a manufacturing process that allows us to produce a variety (of) different types of stencil types, we could also use these as an interface for many other types of manufacturing processes,” he added.