In their experiments, the researchers produce cube-shaped or cuboidal steel pieces with side lengths of a few centimeters. The knowledge gained can also be transferred to objects with more complex geometries, for which computer-controlled 3D printing is of interest. In addition, the damascene-like steel with its periodically changing layers is just one example of the possibility of locally influencing the microstructure of an alloy during the manufacturing process. For example, it is just as well possible to create tool components with a continuous soft core, which are then surrounded by a hard, abrasion-resistant outer layer. It is also conceivable, according to the researchers, that the technology could be used to adjust not only the hardness but also other properties such as corrosion resistance locally.
This new approach heralds a paradigm shift in the design of alloys, explains Philipp Kürnsteiner, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research and one of the scientists involved. "Many known steels are not optimally suited for additive manufacturing. Our approach now is to develop alloys just enough to exploit the full potential of 3D printing.
Original publication: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2409-3#citeas