Durable, lightweight aluminum alloy additively manufactured for aerospace and automotive

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The 3D printed lightweight aluminium and cerium-based alloy can withstand temperatures up to 300°C, proving high strength and durability for automotive, aerospace and defence applications. (Image: ORNL, US. Dept. of Energy)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have additively manufactured a lightweight aluminium alloy and demonstrated its ability to resist creep or deformation at 300°C.

Materials that can perform under high pressure, high temperature environments are needed for automotive, aerospace, defence and space applications.

The alloy, which combines aluminium 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.

Researchers printed pistons made of the alloy for deployment inside of a full-scale engine.

'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’s Ryan Dehoff said.

'We expected notable improvements, but were surprised by how strong and stable these alloys proved to be.'

The pistons will undergo additional testing inside of a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine.

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