A breakthrough 3D-printed material incredibly strong and ductile

“This unusual microstructure’s atomic rearrangement gives rise to ultrahigh strength as well as enhanced ductility, which is uncommon, because usually strong materials tend to be brittle,” Chen explained. Compared to conventional metal casting, “we got almost triple the strength and not only didn’t lose ductility, but actually increased it simultaneously,” he says. “For many applications, a combination of strength and ductility is key. Our findings are original and exciting for materials science and engineering alike,” he added. 

“The ability to produce strong and ductile HEAs means that these 3D printed materials are more robust in resisting applied deformation, which is important for lightweight structural design for enhanced mechanical efficiency and energy saving,” says Jie Ren, Chen’s Ph.D. student and first author of the paper.  

A breakthrough 3D-printed material incredibly strong and ductile

UMass Amherst Ph.D. student Jie Ren holds a miniature heatsink fan

The computational modelling for the study was coordinated by Zhu’s team at Georgia Tech. To comprehend the mechanical roles played by both the FCC and BCC nanolamellae and how they cooperate to provide the material more strength and ductility, he constructed dual-phase crystal plasticity computer models.

“Our simulation results show the surprisingly high strength yet high hardening responses in the BCC nanolamellae, which are pivotal for achieving the outstanding strength-ductility synergy of our alloy. This mechanistic understanding provides an important basis for guiding the future development of 3D printed HEAs with exceptional mechanical properties,” Zhu says.  

Additionally, 3D printing provides a strong tool for producing parts with intricate geometries. Future direct manufacture of end-use components for biomedical and aerospace applications will have plenty of options thanks to the combination of 3D printing technology and the enormous alloy design space of HEAs.

You can view the entire study for yourself in the journal Nature.

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