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Printer Science

3D Printing Doubles the Strength of Stainless Steel (sciencemag.org) 96

sciencehabit writes: Researchers have come up with a way to 3D print tough and flexible stainless steel, an advance that could lead to faster and cheaper ways to make everything from rocket engines to parts for nuclear reactors and oil rigs. The team designed a computer-controlled process to not only create dense stainless steel layers, but to more tightly control the structure of their material from the nanoscale to micron scale. That allows the printer to build in tiny cell wall-like structures on each scale that prevent fractures and other common problems. Tests showed that under certain conditions the final 3D printed stainless steels were up to three times stronger than steels made by conventional techniques and yet still ductile.
The work was done using a commercially-available 3D printer, according to Science magazine. "That makes it likely that other groups will be able to quickly follow their lead to make a wide array of high-strength stainless steel parts for everything from fuel tanks in airplanes to pressure tubes in nuclear power plants."
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3D Printing Doubles the Strength of Stainless Steel

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  • by irrational_design ( 1895848 ) on Saturday November 04, 2017 @01:38PM (#55489585)

    So we can now 3D print metal and plastic. I think I remember reading about the 3D printing of organic material (or maybe that was just conceptual - e.g., printing someone a new liver). What materials can we not 3D print, yet?

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Doctors were printing out duplicate copies of a life size replica model of a human liver with the blood vessels and the cancer tumor(s). The doctor could then try as many times as he wanted, to practice dissecting the liver to remove the tumor while causing the least amount of damage or in the least number of slices (almost like a Flash game).

    • Organic materials can be 3D printed using 2 photon polymerization. Can even print bio degradable materials.

    • by LesFerg ( 452838 )

      There are food printers, you can print with chocolate!! What could be more important than that?

      • There are food printers, you can print with chocolate!! What could be more important than that?

        Alcohol printers?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are a lot of properties that could be described that way. E.g.

    - How much weight can you put on it.
    - How much weight can you hang on its end / how much can you pull it.
    - How much weight can you put on the middle of a bar of it.
    - How easily can it be scratched.
    - How easily can it be sheared.
    etc.

    I’m obviously no expert, but even I know you can't just say "strength".

    Also, "under certain conditions"... Could you get any more weasely?
    Which conditions? A teacup orbiting Jupiter being perfectly aligned

    • I’m obviously no expert, but even I know you can't just say "strength".

      Also, "under certain conditions"... Could you get any more weasely?

      The weasel words came from the journalist, who felt a need to dumb things down for a general audience.

      The actual paper [nature.com] is much more specific and unambiguous.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Saturday November 04, 2017 @03:23PM (#55489917)

    Just last night I read an entire chapter of Rust: The Longest War (2016) devoted to Harry Brearley, one among many to discover stainless steel, but the first who completely refused to shut up about it.

    It was obvious to many involved that stainless steel cutlery (and certain engine parts) was the way of the future, but it took decades for most innovations in steel to find widespread commercial adoption, because every new steel at first mainly served to ruin available tooling.

    I'm sure there was a slow back and forth between improved tooling, and adjusting the stainless steel to best get along with the improved tooling, but it was always slow work, and usually outside of the five-year investment cycle that made your boss loud and proud of your accomplishments.

    That's why it finally took a nutter to not shut up.

    Jonathan Waldman has done quite a bit of research and his writing style has an engaging tone, but there's also some kind of weird semantic deficit in his narrative structure that's difficult to diagnose in a single pass.

    Be prepared for loosely grouped splotches of colour. This book has high geek appeal, but will irritate actual historians and engineers.

    • From personal experience I can tell you that working with stainless steel is quite different. It likes to burn up tools. It's a combination of the right bit materiel the right tool/part speed and the right feed. I can easily see how people never having worked with it before would just shake their head and say no.
  • but 3D printing, I think, is going to be the real deal.

    And yet one more thing that will kill employment levels.

    When i can set up a factory full of machines and give them a file to make what i need, that's a whole lot of people i don't need.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday November 04, 2017 @04:15PM (#55490065)

    Tests showed that under certain conditions the final 3D printed stainless steels were up to three times stronger than steels made by conventional techniques and yet still ductile.

    And under *other* conditions? TFA doesn't say.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Reading the TFA, the authors compare the 3-D printed material with a cast and a wrought version.

      Evidently the printed material is about 3 times (Yield Strength: 590 MPa / 86 ksi vs 160 MPa / 23 ksi) stronger than the reference casting.
      But steel castings are KNOWN to be porous, full of inclusions and very low strength. They are, however, cheap.

      It is an improvement on the wrought (YTS 590MPa vs 365 MPa & UTS 700 MPa vs 555 MPa & similar elongation)

      High strength it is not. The aerospace industry will s

  • Why one material? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Saturday November 04, 2017 @09:45PM (#55491053) Homepage
    If they have micron scale control, why continuously print from one material? Couldn't they make a structural center alloy that makes a gradual change (in a subsurface adjustment zone) into a protective surface alloy? In the center, they could even print micro-scale collection of overlapping unyielding hard plates for ultra impact resistance joined by a perfectly formulated softer steel for macro-scale malleability.
    • The problem is that those materials tend to have different tensile elongation and yield rates. At one end/corner/center of your hypothetical part the metal has already started to fracture starting a cascade failure of the structure that would not have happened if the part were made of a single alloy.
      • But, couldn't the sort of control discussed in this article - building slightly different shapes to the tiny cell wall like structures that prevent fractures, etc. be used to compensate, adjusting the stress response characteristics towards a single norm? Or, just making sure that the skin is stretchier than the core (while having the same rate of thermal expansion). Of course, without the micron scale level of structural control, this would all be gibberish fiction, but if they can do what they say with th
  • by rsmith ( 90057 ) on Sunday November 05, 2017 @08:10AM (#55492695) Homepage

    When designing machinery or constructions, deflection under load is often the limiting factor. In those cases the stiffness of the construction is much more important than the strength of the material.

    Now the stiffness of a construction is determined by both the shape and the material stiffness or Young's Modulus.

    But AFAICT, little if any progress has been made in improving the Young's Modulus of alloys.

    Additionally, often the ultimate strength of metals isn't really important in a design. In general designers want to make sure that the stresses in the material don't exceed the proportionality limit [wikipedia.org].

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