One of the lesser known 3d printing technologies is sheet lamination, sometimes also known as laminated object manufacturing (LOM). It is considered additive because one sheet of material is bound to another, in a layer by layer process.
Early sheet lamination systems used ordinary paper that may have been coated with a binding agent or that had a binding agent sprayed on during the process. More modern methods converted to using a coated paper, which simplified the equipment. In some cases, colored paper was used, in other cases colored inks were deposited onto the paper to achieve a color three-dimensional object. In most cases, the final part was either cut layer by layer with a laser or a blade. This technology was primarily used for prototyping or “look and feel” proofs of a design.
Because of the binding agents, objects made through sheet lamination often had wood-like properties. They could be sanded and then painted to last longer. Material waste can be high in this method, depending on the object design.
The LOM process tended to fuse layers (usually of paper with a binding agent) using heat and/or pressure to bind the layers together. Like sheet lamination, a laser or a cutting blade removed excess material to achieve the final shape.
One variation of sheet lamination uses ultrasonic vibrations to fuse the layers together. This technology is known as Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM). One of the manufacturers of it is Fabrisonics.
UAM uses sheets or ribbons of various metals as the build material. A low-temperature process, ultrasonic welding binds the materials. One of the advantages of UAM is that designers can include different types of metal in a part, and can embed components between the layers, such as wires, sensors, and so on. Post processing usually includes some type of CNC machining to remove unbound material.
Embedding sensor exit strategy and example connectors. Wireless communication or antenna applications can also be done with UAM. In that case, an extraction technique is not required, yet the pocket has to be strategically designed to not attenuate or interfere with the communication signal.
In ultrasonic vibration methods, some bonds can be weaker in some directions than in others.
Fabrisonic uses a room-temperature metal deposition process. The printhead is integrated into 3-axis mills, which makes it easier to bond and then cut away unneeded material.