Historical! Scientists obtain stainless steel through 3D printing

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Inspenet, November 22, 2023.

Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Argonne National Laboratory have managed to create specific compositions of stainless steel (17-4) through 3D printing, managing to match the properties of manufactured versions of conventional way.

The results of this research were published in the November issue of Additive Manufacturing . To obtain the necessary data, they used high-energy X-rays from a particle accelerator.

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Obtaining stainless steel through 3D printing

This study marks a milestone by demonstrating that it is now possible to reliably 3D print 17-4 PH steel, keeping its beneficial properties intact .

The new findings have the potential to increase the profitability and flexibility of the 3d print for manufacturers of products made with 17-4 PH. The approach used in researching this material could also lay the foundation for improving understanding of how to print a variety of substances and predict their characteristics and performance.

“When you think about metal additive manufacturing, we are essentially welding millions of small powder particles into a single piece with a high-power source like a laser, melting them into a liquid, and cooling them into a solid,” he said. the NIST physicist. Fan Zhang, co-author of the study.

Investigations continue

Scientists began research to understand the effects of sudden changes in temperature and direct the internal structure towards the formation of martensite. To analyze the rapid structural changes that occur in milliseconds, specialized tools were required. They identified that synchrotron X-ray diffraction, also known as XRD, was the most suitable technique to carry out this study.


The writers managed to adjust the composition of the steel to identify a set of mixtures that included only iron, nickel, copper, niobium and chromium. This achievement was based on his solid understanding of structural dynamics during the printing process, which served as a reference.

Composition control is truly the key to 3D printing alloys. By controlling the composition, we can control how it solidifies. We also demonstrate that, over a wide range of cooling rates, say between 1,000 and 10 million degrees Celsius per second, our compositions consistently result in fully martensitic 17-4 PH steel.”said Zhang.

The impacts of the recent study could extend beyond 17-4 PH steel. Data derived from the XRD-based approach could be used to create and evaluate computational models designed to predict the quality of printed products, as well as to improve other alloys intended for 3D printing.

Our 17-4 is reliable and reproducible, lowering the barrier to commercial use. By following this composition, manufacturers should be able to print 17-4 structures that are as good as conventionally manufactured partsChen said.

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Source: https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/stainless-steel-3d-printed-characteristics

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