Scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory 3D printed lightweight aluminium and proved its ability to withstand deformation at 300 degrees Celcius. Materials that can function under high pressure,
extreme environments needed for aerospace, automotive, space, and defence applications.
The alloys that merge aluminium with cerium and other metals were 3D printed using a laser powder bed system that deposits one thin layer of material at a time for accurate results.
Scientists printed pistons made of the alloy for use inside a full-scale engine.
Because additively manufactured (i.e. 3D-printed) components are created by locally melting and rapidly cooling layers of material, the performance of these alloys is maximized in 3D printing
Furthermore, because the cooling rate of the alloy can be controlled during the additive manufacturing process, the strength and temperature characteristics of the material can be maximized locally within components as they are fabricated.
” deploying powdered bed additive manufacturing allows the alloy to rapidly harden into fine, stable strengthening particles in the microstructure, leading to exemplary high temp creep resistance we measured.”
ORNL’s Ryan Dehoff says
” We expected notable progress, but were astounded by how sturdy these alloys proved to be .”
The pistons will undergo further testing within a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine.
This project was accepted into TIP to enable the adoption of low-cost,
lightweight 3D-printed parts in the automotive and aerospace
industries, where high strength at high temperatures is required.
Scientists claim it’s a substitute for steel
The increased strength of the alloy may allow the material to replace steel in some applications, and
The combination of strength and thermal stability may allow the material to replace titanium in other applications.
Near-term opportunities for the alloy include automotive heat exchangers and turbo
charger impellers, where the added design dexterity of 3D printing
(e.g., complex internal cooling features impossible to produce by conventional methods)
may provide performance attributes unavailable with conventional production