3D printing and 3D printers have seen a lot of development lately, they have been used to create a lot of things ranging from gadgets and accessories to bio-medical implants and prosthesis equipment. 3D printed metal alloys and compounds have been long been fabricated, however no major breakthrough has yet been made on 3D printed spacecraft’s or jet crafts, for that matter.
A lot of research has been going on, on this and recently scientists and researcher’s at NASA’s jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California have come forward with a revolutionary new 3D printing technology that can 3D print more than one metal alloy in a single 3D printed object.
Why would you need to make such an Object?
Let’s imagine a thermostat, it is made up of two metals joined or welded together, the difference in how the two metals react to temperature, causes the device to react differently to different temperatures. This helps us in deploying this device as a safety cut-off measure, in the case of over-heating or vice – versa. However, imagine if there is a defect in the weld or it is too brittle, would you still trust that device with over-heating problems? No – definitely not.
This is exactly why such a technology is needed, he fact that it came alive with 3D printing technology, is just another feather on the hat.
How does it work?
“We’re taking a standard 3D printing process and combining the ability to change the metal powder that the part is being built with on the fly,” said Douglas Hofmann, a researcher in material science and metallurgy at JPL, and visiting associate at Caltech. “You can constantly be changing the composition of the material.”
Rather than adding layers from the bottom, as in the other 3D printing technology, Hofmann and his colleagues are depositing layers of metal on a rotating rod, thus transitioning metals from the inside out. They are using a laser deposition (LD) technique to fabricate multifunctional metal alloys. Using the technique in parallel with rotational deposition enables fabrication of compositional gradients radially from the center, thereby altering the mechanical and physical properties of the alloy.