MALIBU, Calif. Sept 20, 2017 — HRL Laboratories, LLC, has made a breakthrough in metallurgy, developing a technique for successfully 3D printing high-strength aluminum alloys — including types Al7075 and Al6061 — that opens the door to additive manufacturing of engineering-relevant alloys.
HRL's nanoparticle functionalization technique solves this problem by decorating high-strength unweldable alloy powders with specially selected nanoparticles. The nanoparticle-functionalized powder is fed into a 3D printer, which layers the powder and laser-fuses each layer to construct a three-dimensional object. During melting and solidification, the nanoparticles act as nucleation sites for the desired alloy microstructure, preventing hot cracking and allowing for retention of full alloy strength in the manufactured part.
Because melting and solidification in additive manufacturing is analogous to welding, HRL's nanoparticle functionalization can also be used to make unweldable alloys weldable
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