NASA develops a metal alloy 1,000 times stronger thanks to 3D printing

NASA develops a metal alloy 1,000 times stronger thanks to 3D printing



A team of NASA researchers has developed a new metal alloy 1,000 times stronger than those on the market called GRX-810. And if we’re talking about it today, it’s because they relied on 3D printing to carry out this research project. They have already used additive manufacturing to uniformly disperse the nanometric oxides in the respective alloy, thus offering better thermal and mechanical properties. The material will be able to withstand temperatures of up to 1,093 degrees Celsius and could have a significant impact on the manufacture of rocket engines, for example.

This metal alloy has been hardened by oxide dispersion (or Strengthening the dispersion of oxide It is a method of spreading small oxide particles into a metal mold to increase its strength, heat resistance and ductility. In the case of NASA, we don’t know what metal was originally used, but for the most part, this technology uses a nickel or iron-aluminum alloy. Note that oxide dispersion is usually a very expensive and time-consuming process. However, by taking advantage of additive manufacturing and thermodynamic modeling, the NASA team was able to significantly reduce these times and costs, and claimed to have discovered the optimal composition of the alloy in just 30 simulations.

NASA develops a metal alloy 1,000 times stronger thanks to 3D printing

The new alloy could affect the manufacture of certain parts of rockets (Image credits: NASA)

Development and Characteristics of NASA GRX-810

NASA researchers used very accurate computer models to determine the composition of GRX-810, especially in terms of the amount of preferred oxides. They then used 3D printing to uniformly inject nanometric oxides into them – however, it is unclear what the preferred process is. This method of dispersion allowed them to quickly and inexpensively obtain a durable alloy that is more flexible and resistant to temperature extremes. Its strength has also been significantly increased – according to the team, GRX-810 is 1,000 times stronger than materials developed in the past. Dale Hopkins, Deputy Project Manager for Transformation Tools and Technologies at NASA, adds: This breakthrough is a revolution in the development of materials. New types of stronger and lighter materials play a key role in NASA’s goal to change the future of aviation. Previously, an increase in tensile strength generally reduced a material’s ability to expand and bend before breaking, which is why our new alloys stand out.. »

We are quickly understanding the impact that the GRX-810 developed by NASA could have on the aerospace industry. For example, it can be used to make jet engines to reduce fuel consumption thanks to its durability and thermal resistance. Operation and maintenance costs will also be reduced. When asked about the performance of the GRX-810, the team explained that the alloy has twice the strength to handle fractures; three and a half times greater flexibility to bend before breaking; More than 1000 times the durability under high temperature pressure. Characteristics that open the field of possibilities for the aviation industry!

This is only a first step for NASA, which intends to rely on thermodynamic modeling and additive manufacturing to advance the creation of innovative materials. Tim Smith, a materials scientist at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and one of the inventors of this new alloy concluded:

The application of these two processes has greatly accelerated the pace of development of our materials. We can now produce new materials faster and with better performance than before. »

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*Cover Image Credits: NASA


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