Results from the collaboration with scientists from the Air Force Research Laboratory could have applications in the aerospace, automotive and defense industries.
For millennia, metallurgists have been meticulously tweaking the ingredients of steel to enhance its properties. As a result, several variants of steel exist today; but one type, called martensitic steel, stands out from its steel cousins as stronger and more cost-effective to produce.
Martensitic steels naturally lend themselves to applications in the aerospace, automotive and defense industries, among others, where high-strength, lightweight parts need to be manufactured without boosting the cost. However, for these and other applications, the metals have to be built into complex structures with minimal loss of strength and durability. Researchers from Texas A&M University, in collaboration with scientists in the Air Force Research Laboratory, have now developed guidelines that allow 3D printing of martensitic steels into very sturdy, defect-free objects of nearly any shape.
“Strong and tough steels have tremendous applications but the strongest ones are usually expensive — the one exception being martensitic steels that are relatively inexpensive, costing less than a dollar per pound,” said Ibrahim Karaman, Chevron Professor I and head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “We have developed a framework so that 3D printing of these hard steels is possible into any desired geometry and the final object will be virtually defect-free.”
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