06399018 is referenced by 13 patents.
Solid objects are made by means of a novel multi-step forming, debinding, sintering and infiltrating process, using a metal-ceramic composition. In this process, the mixture is held for a period of time to degas and settle the powdered material from a liquid binder. The packed geometry is then heated to above the melting temperature of the binder to remove the binder portion of the solid geometry. Upon removal of the binder the binder-free solid geometry is raised to a temperature where the metal pre-sinters together into a three-dimensional rigid matrix with interconnected porosity to form a solid precursor. The porous matrix includes the particulate ceramic material and a first metal, which are at least partially sintered. A molten second metal is then introduced to the fill the porous matrix and form an infiltrated matrix. In addition to speed of production, improvements associated with this method include a solid object having improved thermal conductivity, hardness, wear resistance and reduced shrinkage as compared with the rapid tooling techniques taught in the prior art.