Titanium found to strengthen 3D printing

RMIT University have developed a new titanium alloy using copper that solves a key issue with using titanium in 3D printing.

Currently, titanium alloys used in 3D printing are prone to cracking or distortion, as when it cools, the lattices of the material can bond together in column-shaped crystals.

The alloy created at RMIT did not need additional treatment or special process control, as Mark Easton, from the School of Engineering at RMIT highlighted.

“Of particular note was its fully equiaxed grain structure: this means the crystal grains had grown equally in all directions to form a strong bond, instead of in columns, which can lead to weak points liable to cracking,” he said.

The breakthrough was a result of a partnership between RMIT, CSIRO, the University of Queensland and Ohio University, and CSIRO senior principal research scientist, Mark Gibson described how the finding could lead to further developments.

“Titanium-copper alloys are one option, particularly if the use of other additional alloying elements or heat treatments can be employed to improve the properties further,” he said.

“But there are also a number of other alloying elements that are likely to have similar effects. These could all have applications in the aerospace and biomedical industries.”

Funded through the Australian Research Council (ARC), the study was published in the international journal Nature.

The researchers hope that their findings will allow for increased production rates and for the manufacturing of more complex parts using these alloys.

“In general, it opens up the possibility of developing a new range of titanium-based alloys specifically developed for 3D printing with exceptional properties,” said Gibson.