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3D Print Titanium Metal
Jul 07, 2016

In the past 20 years, additive manufacturing technology has developed from simple three dimensional (3D) printers used to generate non-structural resins into a sophisticated manufacturing process capable to produce objects without the use of tools. Most recently, the focus has been shifted from polymers to metals, primarily aiming to cover the needs of the aerospace and other industries. Weight reduction of metal parts, critical for aerospace structures, using additive manufacturing processes can go beyond 50% compared to traditional computational and manufacturing methods applied to the same part and material.

High precision manufacturing of aerospace Titanium alloys, such as the Ti-6Al-4V, is of primary importance for the aerospace industry, due to the high cost involved and the engineering significance of the applications. Various additive manufacturing techniques have been developed, with selective laser melting (SLM) being one of the most commonly used.now it is no problem to do titanium parts by 3D print technology.

Ti-6Al-4V is one of metal alloys employed for SLM produced parts, mainly for applications of high value, performance and complexity, due to its high strength and strength-to-weight ratio. A wide spectrum of mechanical properties over a range of temperatures can be achieved by varying the microstructure of the this alloy through appropriate heat treatment. However, heat treatment adds time and cost to the production process, reducing partly the advantages offered by additive manufacturing.

Looking at the case of the as-built material, it is clear that this can be utilised without further processing or treatment, which is highly preferable from a manufacturing cost point of view. Various researchers have examined the monotonic and fatigue behaviour of SLM Ti-6Al-4V, nevertheless its elasto-plastic response under cyclic loading has not been investigated in much detail. Further experimental and computational work on the elastoplastic behaviour of as-built SLM Ti-6Al-4V under repeated (cyclic) loading is required to complement the knowledge of researchers and engineers aiming to identify the characteristics of such alloys. 

Phenomena associated with the fatigue performance of this class of aerospace metals can be captured with reasonable accuracy with modeling, supported by testing which can validate these models. Engineering design considerations, especially for aircraft and engine parts where high and low cycle fatigue is a critical operating factor, can benefit from mechanical testing and simulation results.