Oak Ridge National Laboratory 3D prints a lightweight aluminum-cerium alloy

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Researchers at the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory say they have additively manufactured parts using a lightweight aluminum alloy and demonstrated its ability to resist creep or deformation at 300°C. The material’s properties will be demonstrated using additive manufactured pistons in a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine.

The researchers noted that while AM production of aluminum alloys is now well established, materials tend to be near-eutectic Al-Si alloys, which while useful do not possess the material properties of conventional wrought alloys.

The alloy, which combines aluminum with cerium and other metals, was printed using a laser powder bed system that deposits one thin layer of material at a time for precise results.

“Using powder-bed 3D printing allowed the alloy to rapidly solidify into fine, stable strengthening particles in the microstructure, resulting in the remarkable high-temp creep resistance we measured,” ORNL researcher Ryan Dehoff said. “We expected notable improvements, but were surprised by how strong and stable these alloys proved to be.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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