Ultrasound Additive Manufacturing (UAM)

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing or UAM, developed by Fabrisonic, combines a unique room-temperature metal deposition process with the ease of traditional CNC milling. The patented ultrasonic ‘print head’ is integrated into 3-axis mills to create a hybrid additive-subtractive process. Swapping from additive to subtractive is as easy as doing a tool change.

Welding with ultrasound

Ultrasonic metal welding has been around since the 1950s with modern applications in the everyday welding of battery tabs, thin foil packaging, and even electronic wires. An ultrasonic weld operation begins by pressing a thin metal foil onto another metal component. While under a constant force, ultrasonic vibrations are applied to cause scrubbing of the mating faces. This shearing motion cleans off surface oxides through friction to then allow direct contact of pure metal on pure metal. The result is in a solid-state atomic bond with minimal heating. The heat and plastic deformation promote diffusion and recrystallization at the interface resulting in a true metallurgical bond. Ultrasonic welding can be accomplished at very low temperatures and without any special environments. For all metals, the bonding temperature is significantly below their respective melting temperature. In aluminums for example, this peak temperature is always below 250 °F. The solid-state nature is a key advantage of ultrasonic welds as it:
  • Protects material properties of the incoming feedstock – Since the materials are only slightly heated, the materials do not experience changes in grain size, precipitation reactions, nor phase changes. The properties of the incoming feedstock are the same as the properties of the final part.
  • Creates bonds between dissimilar metals without creating undesirable brittle metallurgy – This capability differentiates UAM from fusion-based processes and enables Fabrisonic to print engineered materials with custom material properties or properties to match an existing component. For instance, layers of Molybdenum and Invar can be printed into an aluminum heat exchanger to match the CTE of a mounted electronic circuit.
  • Embed temperature-sensitive components in solid metal parts – Many electronic components including microprocessors, sensors, and telemetry have been successfully embedded in solid metal part using UAM. The low-temperature bond allows delicate components to be embedded in solid metal without the damage incurred in comparable fusion-based additive processes.

Ultrasonic AM

UAM is ultrasonic welding on a semi-continuous basis where solid metal objects are built up to a net three-dimensional shape through a succession of welded metal tapes. Through periodic machining operations, detailed features are milled into the object until a final geometry is created by removing excess material. The figure at right shows a rolling ultrasonic welding system, consisting of two 20,000 hertz ultrasonic transducers and the welding sonotrode. High-frequency ultrasonic vibrations are locally applied to metal foils, held together under pressure, to create a weld. The vibrations of the transducer are transmitted to the disk-shaped welding sonotrode, which in turn creates an ultrasonic solid-state weld between the thin metal tape and the substrate. The continuous rolling of the sonotrode over the plate welds the entire tape to the plate. Successive layers are welded together to build up height. This process is then repeated until a solid component has been created. CNC contour milling is then used to achieve required tolerances and surface finish.

How does it compare to other forms of 3D metal printing processes?


UAM combines the advantages of additive and subtractive fabrication approaches to allow complex 3D parts to be formed with high dimensional accuracy and smooth surfaces, including objects with complex internal passageways. ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials) defines Additive Manufacturing as the “process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies much like CNC milling.” Synonyms include: additive fabrication, additive processes, additive techniques, additive layer manufacturing, layer manufacturing and free-form fabrication.

While not formally defined under ASTM terminology, hybrid additive is generally considered to be a combination of additive (3D printing) and subtractive (CNC milling) technologies in a single machine. For instance, the SonicLayer 4000, starts off life as a large three-axis mill to which we integrate our patented ultrasonic welding head. The system builds up to near-net-shape using ultrasonic welding and completes fine detail through the use of onboard CNC milling.

Consumer Products AM 2024

1,346 polymer and metal AM companies and 143 end-users. Consumer products AM generated $2.6 billion in 2023. Segment expected to grow to $28 billion by 2033 at 26.8% CAGR. This new market study fro...

Back to top button
Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services


Join our 12,000+ Professional community and get weekly AM industry insights straight to your inbox. Our editor-curated newsletter equips executives, engineers, and end-users with crucial updates, helping you stay ahead.