An international team of researchers has developed a new 3D printing technique for stainless steel materials with exceptional strength and flexibility.
Most metal forming methods lead to a reduction in toughness, a situation posed and solved by a team of researchers from Birmingham University.
The team, which includes groups from Stockholm University, Sweden, and Zhejiang University, China, claims that this research is an important step forward in using 3D printing technology as a significant production tool.
Researcher at the University of Birmingham, Dr. Leifeng Liu, said: “3D printing … has been known to produce previously inaccessible shaped objects, and our work shows that it also provides the ability to create new generation structural compounds with significant improvements in durability and toughness.”
According to the team, this was done thanks to a high-speed cooling rate – estimated from 1000 degrees Celsius per second to 100 million degrees Celsius per second – something that could not be done during digital metal production with large quantities in the traditional way until the appearance of 3D printing.
The metals are rapidly cooled, resulting in an unbalanced state that allows some microstructures such as sub-micro-sized dislocation networks, which is the main reason for the mechanical properties of metals to be improved as revealed in the article.
“This work allows scientists to research an entirely new tool for designing new alloy systems with super mechanical properties,” Liu added. “It also makes 3D metal printing accessible to areas that require high mechanical properties such as metal structure parts, aerospace, and automotive components.”