Jun 1, 2018 | By Thomas

A research team from Washington State University has used 3D printing in a one-step process to print structures made of two different materials.

Closeup of 3D printed multimaterial sample object (Credit: Washington State University)

Until now 3D printing has been limited to using mostly one material at a time. This advance could possibly help manufacturers reduce their production steps and use single machine to make complex products with multiple parts in just one operation. They will also be able to better control properties like heat conduction, corrosion protection, as well as environmental adaptation in their materials.

The research team, led by Amit Bandyopadhyay, Herman and Brita Lindholm Endowed Chair Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, used 3D printing technology to print out ceramic and metal structures, and also a bimetallic tube that is nonmagnetic in one end and magnetic in the other.

“This is a step towards the next level of manufacturing and the next generation of design, validation, optimization and manufacturing using 3D printing,” said Bandyopadhyay.

Professor Amit Bandyopadhyay, Washington State University

Moreover, with adoption of multimaterial 3D printing, manufacturers will no longer need to use the joint connections or adhesives that are currently used for producing multimaterial products.

“You could be joining two very strong materials together, but their connection will only be as strong as their adhesive,” said Bandyopadhyay. “Multimaterial, additive manufacturing helps get rid of the weak point.”

The reseachers have used the technique to print out a nickel-chromium and copper structure. Usually the nickel-chromium alloy Inconel 718 is used for sheet metal components for airplane engines and in liquid-fueled rockets. While this material is able to withstand high temperatures, it cools very slowly.

To understand processing ability and measure resultant interfacial and thermal properties of Inconel 718 and copper alloy, reseachers fabricated bimetallic structures using laser engineering net shaping (LENS™), a commercially available additive manufacturing technique which is developed for fabricating metal parts directly from a computer-aided design (CAD) solid model by using a metal powder injected into a molten pool created by a focused, high-powered laser beam. LENS is similar to selective laser sintering, but the metal powder is applied only where material is being added to the part at that moment.

It was hypothesized that additively combining the two aerospace alloys would form a unique bimetallic structure with improved thermophysical properties compared to the Inconel 718 alloy. Researchers have used two approaches: the direct deposition of GRCop-84 on Inconel 718 and the compositional gradation of the two alloys. They found when the copper were added in the 3D printing process, the part could be cooled 250% faster which can ultimately translate to higher fuel efficiency and a longer life for airplane engines. Such structures with designed compositional gradation and tailored thermal properties opens up the possibilities of multi-material metal additive manufacturing for next generation of aerospace structures.

“Multimaterial additive manufacturing has opened the doors to so many different possible creations,” said Bandyopadhyay. “It has allowed us to be bolder and be more creative.”

The research was funded by Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation, the National Science Foundation, and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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I.AM.Magic wrote at 6/4/2018 9:09:01 AM:

How is this a new process again? It says in the article that the process is "commercially available" which means that it isn't new. I know for a fact that FGM or multi material printing metals is at least 8 years old and inconel FGM at least 5 years old. I think this is just a title issue and not a research issue.

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