Innovations in Steel-Making Through 3-D Printing
From：Taiwan Trade Center Chicago
Damscus Steel, usually forged by skilled artisans, can now be made with a 3-D printer according to Philipp Kurnsteiner’s innovative study. Kurnsteiner is associated with the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research, and his study prints 3-D metals in an additive style. To make these types of folded steels, two steels are combined based on their carbon content. A powdered metal is heated with a laser on the work surface of the printer, and the effect when it cools is a crystal structure of high-carbon steel. Further variations of temperature can create different materials.
With a 3-D printer, however, the layered style of printing can be used to vary the temperatures as each layer is placed down. Where some are softer and easily bent, others are hard. The way they did this in the printer is by shutting off the laser intermittently throughout the process which causes the topmost layer to cool quickly and become crystalized. Then, when the laser is turned back on, the process is repeated. They experimented multiple times with different variations to the laser.
Once they completed their test-run for the metal, researchers confirmed that they had created an authentic piece with correctly structured particles. They also placed two steels that had been printed, one with intermittent laser shut offs and one without, next to each other for examination. There was one key difference; the 3-D printed steel with shutting off the laser intermittently to ensure temperature changes was notably stronger and had a 20% enhanced stretching force.
Though the process was successful, it is not an official technique commonly used for making steel. However, since they achieved their goal, the opportunity for this less-expensive process to be used in the future for steel-making is now on the table. They also noted that 3-D printing like this could be adjusted and adapted for different outcomes in the steel-making process. In short, the opportunities are endless.