The MPIF reports that Alcoa in the US has invested US$22 million in a new facility located in Muskegon County, Michigan which combines hot isostatic pressing (HIP) with 3D printing.

With the HIP process, the facility will use elevated temperatures and extreme pressures to press powdered products into fully dense, high-strength parts.

HIP also reportedly allows 3D printed nickel-based superalloy hot section components to be printed and then densified into a form solid, durable, and tough enough to be reliably used in jet engines.

HIP utilizes enormous pressures with 7,000 PSI as an approximate baseline. 15,000 PSI is common, but for difficult to sinter materials, pressures on the order of 40,000 PSI may be required. However, temperatures are not as high. For aluminum it could be as low as 900°F while for superalloys, 2,000°F or so might be a typical process temperature. These temperatures are below the melting point of the material. HIP is not a melting process, but actually a combination of elevated temperature and extremely high pressures causing a complex diffusion process between the grains.

The ability to combine isostatic pressing with 3D printing and superalloy materials may open a new world of low-cost, net-shape, or near-net-shape engine parts, the MPIF says.

This story is reprinted from material from the MPIF, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.