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article imageNew alloy leads to printing of safe steel products

By Tim Sandle     Feb 10, 2018 in Science
3D printing has advanced in relation to plastics. With metals, progress has been slower due to technical complexities. A new advancement with the effective and safe 3D printing of steel has been announced.
The new technology has a use across many sectors, from automobiles to aircraft. The development comes from the University of Kassel, and it involves the use of additive manufacturing to process a steel alloy.
To date, more expensive titanium alloys have dominated worldwide 3D printing with metals. Steel, while cheaper, has technical complexities which the new additive process has now addressed.
In test the alloy has highly exceptionally high damage tolerance. This makes it suitable for a range of material applications, with the net effect of printed products safer and more reliable. Attempts have been made to process steel through additive manufacturing; however the effects have not always been reliable.
The new technique uses the steel material together with an electron beam printing process. The process was developed by Professor Thomas Niendorf. For the development, Professor Niendorf used a TRIP steel alloy as the basis. This demonstrated very good stability which was down to the particular deformation mechanisms of the material.
The heat generated from the electron beam pressure process was deployed so to avoid the unpredictability of the material properties found with steel. This allowed for an improved internal material structure. Overcoming this was essential in order to avoid breakages or other structural weaknesses.
The researcher indicates that his new additive process is well-suited for complex and small components. The process works by building up micrometer-thin layers of material. This begins with metal powder being melted by an electron beam or a laser. This aids the production of a material that is strong and resilient.
The material has been reported to the journal Scientific Reports. The research paper is titled “Design of novel materials for additive manufacturing - Isotropic microstructure and high defect tolerance.”
The research is timely given that the 3D printing market is expected to be valued at $32.78 billion by 2023. This is being triggered by improvements with the ease of development of customized products; reduction in overall manufacturing costs; and increased investments.
More about 3D printing, additive printing, Steel, Construction
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