Nanoparticles key to 3D printing unweldable metal alloys

New research from America could open up three-dimensional (3D) printing to thousands of metal alloys, even those that can't be welded. Currently, only 10 metal alloys can be 3D printed, while the vast majority of the more than 5,500 alloys in use today cannot be additively manufactured because the melting and solidification dynamics during the 3D printing process leads to periodic cracks in the material. Published in the journal Nature, the research describes a method for 3D printing — where metal components are be built up layer-by-layer, increasing design freedom and manufacturing flexibility — of high-strength aluminium alloys. The new technique uses nanoparticles of hydrogen-stabilized zirconium to control solidification during additive manufacturing process. The printed metal alloys showed no signs of cracking and demonstrated strengths comparable to wrought materials. To find out more check out 3D printing of high-strength aluminium alloys.