3D-printed metals made more durable with heat treatment

MIT researchers developed a new heat treatment that makes 3D-printed materials more durable.

The heating treatment is a type of recrystallization that moves a substance through a heated zone at a precisely regulated pace to combine the substance’s numerous small grains into larger, more stable crystals.  The team tested the technology on 3D-printed nickel-based superalloys used in gas turbines, which are generally cast.  The materials begin as small grains with defects and mangle like spaghetti.  When heated, the defects annihilate and reconfigure, allowing the material to grow.  In the recrystallization process, the grains continuously elongate by consuming the defective material and smaller grains.  

Soon, high-performance blades and vanes for jet engines and gas turbines could be 3D-printed using the process.  This could open the door to new designs with reduced fuel consumption and increased energy efficiency.

What do you think of this new technology?

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