Research leads to improved 3-D printing technology for aerospace composites


In a new development, scientists have improved the technology of 3-D printing from aluminum, with achieving hardness of products increased by 1.5 times. In fact, the nanocarbon additive for aluminum powder, which has been developed, will improve the quality of 3-D printed aerospace composites. Meanwhile, these nanocarbon additive has been developed derived from the products of processing related petroleum gas.

The result of the finding is published in the international scientific journal Composites Communications.

Today, high-tech components for the aviation and space industries are main field of application of aluminum 3-D printing. So, even the minutest defects in printed structures are significant to the safety of the technology being developed.

Porosity of Material related to defects in 3D printed structure, says research

According to researchers behind the development, high porosity of the material is the main risk of such defects. Among other reasons, this is caused by the qualities of the original aluminum powder. Therefore, to ensure a dense and uniform microstructure of printed products, researchers proposed to add carbon nanofibers to aluminum powder. Hence, with the use of this modifying additive, it makes it possible to ensure the material is less porous and elevate its hardness by 1.5 times.

During the course of the research, researchers found that changing the chemical composition and phase of the powder for printing allows to improve its properties. This is attained by introducing additional elements into the main matrix. In particular, the thermal conductivity of carbon nanofibers is high. This helps to minimize the temperature difference between printed layers at the time of product synthesis, during the stage of selective laser melting. Benefitting from this, inhomogeneity from the microstructure of the material can be almost eliminated.

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