Today's aircraft are assembled from thousands of metal rivets and various parts. This is because the aluminum alloy used for the frame is light and strong, but it cannot be welded. Once you try to weld them, a phenomenon called hot cracking occurs, which becomes weak and breaks when it cools. Welding effects such as these also hinder the development of 3D printing in the direction of high strength aluminum alloys. After various attempts, the researchers found that the metal after the laser melted would fall like a cookie.
However, all this seems to change soon. Researchers at the HRL lab in Malibu, Calif., seem to have overcome this long-standing problem after developing the two most commonly used high-strength aluminum alloys for 3D printing.
These alloys can be used not only in airplanes, but also in cars and trucks. In addition, the method also increases the possibility of using 3D printing processes to make high strength steels and nickel based superalloys. On the other hand, the team's trick is to use special nanoparticles to make metal coatings and to form the desired alloy microstructure framework when the laser heats the metal. As it cools, the molten alloy follows a crystalline pattern set by these nanoparticles, preventing hot cracking, which means that the final manufactured product retains its full physical characteristics. In order to find suitable nanoparticles, especially zirconium-based nanoparticles. The researchers finally found nanoparticles with corresponding properties through the analysis of the numerous possible elements on the periodic table.
Zirconium is not expensive, and medium manufacturing costs are expected to yield high value applications. Welded aluminum aircraft may further reduce the weight of the aircraft, and the lighter weight allows the aircraft to fly farther on the same amount of fuel, and these will eventually become substantial profits and benefits.