The researchers plan to design, develop and improve new metallic alloy compositions for AM that are resistant to the effects of the naval/maritime environment.
The researchers plan to design, develop and improve new metallic alloy compositions for AM that are resistant to the effects of the naval/maritime environment.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering plan to explore next-generation metals, especially steel, for use in additive manufacturing (AM). 

The research is financed by a three year, US$449,000 award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR)’s Additive Manufacturing Alloys for Naval Environments (AMANE) program to design, develop and improve new metallic alloy compositions for AM that are resistant to the effects of the naval/maritime environment. 

‘Integrated Computational Materials Design for Additive Manufacturing of High-Strength Steels used in Naval Environments,’ is led by Wei Xiong, PhD, assistant professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

‘There are several metals, from nickel alloys to aluminum and titanium, which are the foundation for AM production of complex parts with properties that could not be developed via traditional, or subtractive, manufacturing,’ said Dr Xiong. ‘However, many of these materials are not as strong or reliable in the harsh environment of the sea, and that’s a disadvantage for the Navy and other maritime agencies. Steel and its alloys are still the best, most versatile and structurally sound metals for naval construction and repair, and so our research will focus on developing new toolkits to leverage the use of new steel prototypes in AM that will benefit the US Navy.’ 

Corrosion resistance

The Physical Metallurgy and Materials Design Laboratory led by Dr Xiong will design a new type of high-strength low-alloy steel, which can be used in naval construction. The ONR proposal’s objective is for the Pitt researchers to apply the Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) tools to design both the composition of these allows and the direct metal laser sintering process, which is used in AM to fuse the metal powders into components. The research will also focus on post-process optimization, which can improve the mechanical properties and corrosion resistance of these specialty steels. 

‘Additive manufacturing presents a transformative opportunity for the Navy and Department of Defense to develop complex structures that are stronger, more reliable and yet cost-effective,’ added Dr Xiong. 

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