Ultrasound Particle Manipulation

Ultrasound Research Group (URG) at Neurotechnology undertakes research in the fields of non-linear ultrasound and ultrasonic particle manipulation. It has strong expertise in ultrasonic transducer technology, development of dedicated electronics and ultrasonic field modelling.

URG is developing a 3D printing technology that would be based on ultrasonic particle manipulation. Ultrasonic particle manipulation is a non-contact manipulation method, which has a few major advantages over mechanical handling of materials and components:

  • it can handle a wide range of materials and components with very different mechanical properties (from metals, plastics down to even liquids);
  • it can manipulate materials and components with a large range of sizes and shapes (typically, from a couple of millimeters down to a submillimeter range);
  • small components can be easily handled while completely avoiding the parasitic electrostatic forces;
  • sensitive components can be manipulated without causing any damage.

If the advantages of ultrasonic particle manipulation can be exploited in a 3D printing process, more versatile printers can be created. Such printers would be capable of printing different materials and assembling various components, which means that in future whole electronic device could be printed with a single printer. Neurotechnology has a patent pending for a 3D printing apparatus and method based on ultrasonic particle manipulation.

So far, the group has created a technology demonstrator that can assemble simple electronic circuits. The prototype uses an array of ultrasonic transducers for non-contact transportation and positioning of electronic components and a laser soldering of those components to a PCB board, also in a non-contact way. An on-board camera is used to coordinate the whole process, detect the PCB and component positions, calibrate the laser, etc. Watch the video below for more information on ultrasonic particle manipulation and the developed prototype.