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NASA Develops Twice-as-Strong 3D-Printed Alloy

NASA has demonstrated a breakthrough in metal additive manufacturing high-temperature materials that could lead to stronger, more durable parts for airplanes and spacecraft.  A team of researchers from NASA and Ohio State University detailed the characteristics of the new alloy, GRX-810, in a paper published in the journal Nature.

“This superalloy has the potential to dramatically improve the strength and toughness of components and parts used in aviation and space exploration,” said Dr. Tim Smith of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, lead author of the Nature paper. Smith and his team utilized computer modeling and metal AM to create the new alloy.

GRX-810 is an oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) alloy. In other words, tiny particles containing oxygen atoms spread throughout the alloy enhance its strength. ODS alloys are good choices for aerospace parts for high-temperature applications, like those inside aircraft and rocket engines, because they can withstand harsher conditions before reaching failure. Current metal AM superalloys can withstand temperatures up to 2,000 °F. Compared to those, GRX-810 is twice as strong, over 1,000 times more durable, and twice as resistant to oxidation.

“This new alloy is a major achievement,” said Dale Hopkins, deputy project manager of NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project. “In the very near future, it may well be one of the most successful technology patents NASA Glenn has ever produced.”

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