One of the major factors that has kept some companies from adapting to 3D printing technology wholeheartedly has been the cost of the materials that are needed. Thanks to some new advances however more companies will be able to afford this new technology and make better use of it.
These new metal matrix composite components can be used to make parts for aircraft and automotive applications. Instead of using a pre-made material, this material is created by mixing several different types of powder together. This in turn creates a reaction and the powders solidify together, making them strong. The particles inside the finished material can range in size from 50nm to 100nm and contain iron oxide to ensure that they are strong and durable.
Liang Hao, a lecturer at the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences, and Sasan Dadbakhsh, a doctoral candidate at the College created this new way of making durable materials for 3D printing applications. They stated that the material is ideal for making parts such as pistons or even brake discs for both cars and planes.
Even though the parts created using this material are more complex than traditionally made parts, they are actually structurally lighter. This opens up the ability to create airplanes and vehicles that are lighter, more efficient and stronger than their previous versions.
In order to mix the powders together and create the reaction that fuses them together, a laser device is needed. However, beyond this initial cost, the entire process can be completed on a much lower budget than other 3D printing materials. In addition, it is much easier to create smaller amounts of parts, even down to one necessary part, rather than having to create entire batches.
While more research is definitely needed, this new advance gives us a hint as to what the future will hold for 3D printing and the manufacturing and engineering industry as a whole.
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