Mar 23, 2018 | By Benedict

Researchers at North Carolina State University have 3D printed iron-based amorphous metal (metallic glass) alloys that could be used to make more efficient electric motors and other devices. The researchers produced iron alloy on a scale 15 times larger than its critical casting thickness.

(Image: Zaynab Mahbooba)

Amorphous metals, otherwise known as metallic glass, are solid metallic materials with a disordered atomic-scale structure. They are non-crystalline in their solid state, and have good electrical conductivity, making them useful for transformers. Some researchers have looked into the use of amorphous metals as a biomaterial for bodily implants.

The problem with making amorphous metals is that rapid cooling is required to prevent a crystalline structure from forming. This has generally restricted scientists to making amorphous metals only in very thin layers.

Using 3D printing, however, researchers at North Carolina State University may have found a way to produce metallic glass on a much larger scale, eclipsing the critical casting thickness of the materials.

“The idea of using additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to produce metallic glass on scales larger than the critical casting thickness has been around for more than a decade,” explains Zaynab Mahbooba, a Ph.D. student in North Carolina State University's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “But this is the first published work demonstrating that we can actually do it. We were able to produce an amorphous iron alloy on a scale 15 times larger than its critical casting thickness.”

The metallic glass 3D printing process works by melting 20-micron layers of metal powder, one layer at a time. Because of the thinness of the layers, the metal cools quickly and retains its amorphous, non-crystalline properties. But rather than produce a visibly layered structure like other printing techniques do, the process results in a uniform metallic glass object.

(Image: George Stobbart / Wikipedia)

“This is a proof-of-concept demonstrating that we can do this,” says Ola Harrysson, Edward P. Fitts Distinguished Professor of Industrial Systems and Engineering at NC State. “And there is no reason this technique could not be used to produce any amorphous alloy.”

Harrysson adds that “some metallic glasses have demonstrated enormous potential for use in electric motors, reducing waste heat and converting more power from electromagnetic fields into electricity.”

While the researchers will have to continue with their trial-and-error research in order to find the ideal alloy compositions for specific applications, they are confident that their work could open up huge opportunities in the creation of wear-resistant materials, high-strength materials, and lightweight 3D printed structures.

“Because we're talking about additive manufacturing, we can produce these metallic glasses in a variety of complex geometries–which may also contribute to their usefulness in various applications,” Harrysson says.

A research paper documenting the findings, “Additive manufacturing of an iron-based bulk metallic glass larger than the critical casting thickness,” has been published in the journal Applied Materials Today.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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Ryan Lin, Lin Engineering, Inc. wrote at 3/28/2018 11:53:55 PM:

How can I get some magnetic steel data of these materials?

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