The new titanium alloy is the record holder of the specific strength of 3D printed metal
A relatively simple process, which involves 3D printing metal and then heating it, has led to the transformation of the common beta titanium alloy into a new titanium superalloy with a specific microstructure. The resulting material has exceptional strength and, at the same time, its production is significantly cheaper, compared to other materials with similar properties.
The first stage of production of the new titanium alloy – 3D printing. Credit: Monash University.
Titanium alloys tend to be popular due to their strength combined with relatively low weight. This predisposes them, for example, in the construction of airplanes and other machines. But as they say, there is always room for improvement. Experts from Australia’s Monash University have developed a new titanium alloy with a unique microstructure that guarantees considerable strength. The resulting alloy is not only stronger than most titanium alloys, but because it is 3D printed, it can take virtually any shape.
Aijun Huang Credit: Monash University.
Aijun Huang and his colleagues used a common 3D printing process in which metal powder is melted with a laser beam and sintered layer by layer. In this case, it was a commonly used beta titanium alloy. The next step was critical, when the material was subjected to heating at temperatures of 480 to 520 °C. This led to the emergence of a specific microstructure that guarantees the alloy its exceptional strength.
logo. Credit: Monash University.
During this treatment, the titanium particles are gathered together in nanograins, which then join together in pairs. According to Huang’s team, this is the preceding we have seen a similar structure in a titanium alloy. It is thanks to him that the resulting material is so strong. Tests have shown that the new titanium alloy has a tensile strength of over 1,600 MPa. In comparison, most commercial titanium alloys reach a tensile strength of around 1000 MPa. At the same time, the researchers emphasize that it has the highest specific strength of all known 3D printed metal alloys.
According to Huang, their research offers a completely new approach to precipitation hardening in commercial alloys. It can be used in the production of components in complex shapes for applications where the material is exposed to high mechanical stress. According to Huang, the use of 3D printing and simple heating technology also means significant savings compared to other materials of similar strength.
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