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Surfi-Sculpt: Outline

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How it works

Surfi-Sculpt is a novel power beam materials processing technology which creates carefully designed features across a surface. A power beam is used in Surfi-Sculpt processing; this can be a laser beam or an EB, although the latter process variant is significantly more advanced in its development and has been used in the vast majority of tests to date. The beam is deflected rapidly over a substrate surface to displace material in a controlled manner. The result is a textured surface consisting of an array of protrusions above the original surface and a corresponding array of intrusions or cavities in the substrate. The process can be used to produce high aspect ratio spikes up to 2mm in height, blades, channels, swirls and burr-free holes in a range of metals, polymers, ceramics and glasses, in just a matter of seconds per square centimetre. The size, shape and distribution of the features can all be varied to produce a surface tailored for a specific application. 

When the beam comes into contact with the substrate surface it creates a molten pool of material. If the beam is then translated sideways, the combined effects of vapour pressure and surface tension allow the material from the hole to be piled up behind the beam. By repeating this process many times at the same site, protrusions of the order of 2mm height and 0.2mm width may be grown, and each will be accompanied by one or more corresponding intrusions or holes. A whole series of protrusions can be built up simultaneously across a substrate. With careful control of the electron beam process parameters (beam accelerating potential, beam current, focus, etc), the design of a unique pattern and precisely defined deflection movements, it is possible to create a wide variety of different surfaces.

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