So far the construction of something in metal involved a high degree of complexity and cost, but everything may be about to change, thanks to 3D printing technology. It is all due to the effort of a group of researchers from the HRL laboratories, who were able to develop a new 3D printing method that allows the printing of extremely rigid aluminum.
The new method, which researchers have termed as nano-functionalization, is based on the use of nano-functionalized powders for printing with the 3D printer, these are then applied in thin layers which are then fused and solidified by a laser, creating the volume of the object.
During the casting and solidification process, the structures are able to maintain their full stiffness without breaking, because the nano-particles act as nucleation points for the future aluminum microstructure. The main objective of the team was to avoid the breaks due to the high temperature, controlling the microstructure, naturally as the material reaches the solid state.
Nowadays there is already extremely rigid aluminum production, but the costs of industrial production of this material, which is used in automotive parts and aircraft fuselages, are too high making their use extremely limited in order to maintain production costs.
This new technique will allow a growth of scale with controlled costs, and will also allow to use super rigid aluminum in the most diverse shapes and sizes, for an extremely less expensive value as well as much less time consuming and with a superior level of detail.
In addition, it also allows, unlike before, to weld materials that until now could not be welded, thanks to the nano-functionalization process, thus opening doors for new uses of materials for better and more durable products, and this is, one of the most important developments in the most important metal processing and smelting industry, probably from the last century.