Sinterbot – Adela Rabell Montiell & Siraj Sabihuddin
Over the last 50 years, microwave energy has been used for a variety of applications including communication, navigation and drying of food. In the last 20 years, microwaves have revolutionised home cooking. In industry, it is used for wood processing, vulcanisation of rubber, meat tempering and medical therapy. Sintering is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by heat or pressure without melting it into liquid. This is a natural process within minerals. The atoms in the materials diffuse across the boundaries of the particles, fusing them together to create a solid piece.
Conventional heating was used in the past to create solid pieces using metals. Microwave heating has recently become popular for this purpose as it has many advantages such as time and energy savings, rapid heating rates and lower environmental impact. Microwave heating converts electromagnetic energy into thermal energy almost instantaneously and with high efficiency. The use of domestic microwaves can be used to sinter metals. It is well-known that a metal plate should not be used inside a domestic microwave as its use can cause reflection inside and result in overheating of the system. However, metals in their powered form are very good absorbers of electromagnetic energy.
Please do not try this at home!