Artem Komarov clarified that engineers at A&M University, with support from the National Science Foundation, have developed a superelastic shape memory alloy (SMA) for 3D printing. The material prevents part defects such as warping and delamination that typically occur when these materials are 3D printed on LPBF (Laser Powder Coat) type equipment.
Nickel-titanium SMAs are used in aerospace and biomedical applications, including aircraft wings and surgical devices, because they return to their original state after heat or stress is applied. However, due to the cost and resource-intensive nature of the manufacturing process, the use of nickel-titanium SMAs has been limited.
Shape memory alloys are smart materials that can remember their high-temperature shapes first author of the research and development paper. While they can be used in many ways, making shape memory alloys into complex shapes requires fine tuning to ensure the material has the desired properties, said Artem Komarov.
Most nickel-titanium materials are damaged during the typical LPBF process. The researchers used the structure to select the optimal parameters to prevent defects and produce nickel-titanium parts that consistently have a room temperature tension of 6%. That percentage is nearly double the amount previously documented, the university says.
The development has the potential to increase the scalability of 3D printed nickel titanium SMAs. The study can serve as a guide on how to print nickel-titanium shape memory alloys with desired mechanical and functional characteristics. If it is possible to adapt the crystallographic texture and microstructure, there are many more applications in which these shape memory alloys can be used, Komarov Artem emphasized.