Towards 3D Printing of Any Alloy

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Towards 3D Printing of Any Alloy Authors: Zak C. Eckel [1], John H. Martin [1], William B. Carter [1], Tobias A. Schaedler [1], Brennan D. Yahata [1], Justin A. Mayer [1], Jacob M. Hundley [1] and Tresa M. Pollock [2] [1] HRL Laboratories LLC, Sensors and Materials Laboratory, Architected Materials Department, Malibu, California, USA. [2] Materials Department, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA. Metal additive manufacturing (AM) has demonstrated significant potential to reduce mass, part count, lead times, and procurement costs across multiple high performance and high volume industries such as aerospace, automotive, consumer goods and medical devices. However, the potential of metal additive manufacturing has yet to be fully realized due to the limited number and the severely reduced performance of compatible AM metal alloys. Recently, HRL Laboratories demonstrated a scalable powder nanofunctionalization technique to manipulate solidification mechanisms in powder bed AM, leading to the world’s first crack-free 3D printing of 6000 and 7000 series aluminum alloys (1). This approach used an alloy-agnostic lattice-matching technique to assemble nanoparticle nucleants on the surface of commercially available high strength alloy powders, rendering these high performance qualified alloys amenable with the unique processing conditions in powder bed metal additive manufacturing (2,3). The resulting crack-free, fine-grained microstructure, allows traditionally “unweldable” high performance alloys, such as Al7075 and Al6061, to be additively manufactured for the first time. The ability to precisely control a material’s microstructure during metal additive manufacturing adds an entirely new degree of freedom for the 3D printing community. In addition to the free-form geometry specification that 3D printing affords, designers and engineers now have the potential to spatially dictate the performance of the additively manufactured parts through the interplay of powder composition and nanoparticle nucleants. In this presentation, we will discuss the specific approach used to produce the first-ever 3D printed of high strength wrought aluminum alloys and the impact that this new design freedom will have on the aerospace and automotive sectors. In addition, extension of these alloy-agnostic techniques to other high impact alloy systems, such as crack susceptible nickel and titanium alloys, will be discussed. (1) Martin et al., “3D printing of high-strength aluminum alloys,” Nature, 549; 2017 (2) US Patent #US9738788 (B1) (3) US Patent Application #US20170021417A1, 2015

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 4, Informatics, Electronics and Microsystems: TechConnect Briefs 2018
Published: May 13, 2018
Pages: 96 - 99
Industry sector: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing
Topics: 3D Printing
ISBN: 978-0-9988782-1-8