This paper presents a new micro additive manufacturing process and initial characterization of its capabilities. The process uses modulated electric fields to manipulate and deposit particles from colloidal solution in a contactless way and is named electrophoretically-guided micro additive manufacturing (EPμAM). The inherent flexibility and reconfigurability of the EPμAM process stems from electrode array as an actuator use, which avoids common issues of controlling particle deposition with templates or masks (e.g., fixed template geometry, post-process removal of masks, and unstable particle trapping). The EPμAM hardware testbed is presented alongside with implemented control methodology and developed process characterization workflow. Additionally, a streamlined two-dimensional (2D) finite element model (FEM) of the EPμAM process is used to compute electric field distribution generated by the electrode array and to predict the final deposition location of particles. Simple particle manipulation experiments indicate proof-of-principle capabilities of the process. Experiments where particle concentration and electric current strength were varied demonstrate the stability of the process. Advanced manipulation experiments demonstrate interelectrode deposition and particle group shaping capabilities where high, length-to-width, aspect ratio deposits were obtained. The experimental and FEM results were compared and analyzed; observed process limitations are discussed and followed by a comprehensive list of possible future steps.
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