Deciphering the Phenomenon of Solute Trapping in 3D Printing

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A recent study conducted by researchers from Queen Mary University of London provides new insights into solute transport and solidification processes in additive manufacturing. This could enhance the creation of new materials and methods for 3D printing.

The study was carried out in collaboration with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Centre of Excellence for Advanced Materials, and University of Leicester. It was published in Nature Communications. The research concentrates on solute trapping during rapid solidification in additive manufacturing. This effect is similar to adding a secret ingredient into a recipe. As a result, solute elements are concentrated at the solidification front affecting the microstructural integrity of parts created in AM.

The research utilizes a computational model to explore solute transport during the fast thermal cycles typical of additive manufacturing. The findings suggest that melt convection encourages solute trapping by weakening partitioned solute at the solidification front. This results in transitions from ultra-fine to course cell microstructures. The insights gathered from the study show a path to reduce crack susceptibility in parts created by AM, especially by speeding up the solidification process. Furthermore, the detailed solidification pathway unveiled in this study may heavily impact future materials design to improve 3D printability, particularly for ‘hard-to-print’ superalloys.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) have supported a study that represents progress in understanding and reducing defects in 3D printed components. The findings could influence the production of stronger, more durable, and intricate 3D printed components, possibly revolutionizing material design plans in the Additive Manufacturing industry.

You can find the research paper named “Solute trapping and non-equilibrium microstructure during rapid solidification of additive manufacturing” here.

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