Many people may not know that the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) is headquartered in Pittsburgh, so it is fitting that one of my alma maters, the University of Pittsburgh, just received a $503,000 grant to research how aluminum alloys behave during Metal Laser Sintering.  Benedict of explains...

3D printing with metals is a fascinating business, one which involves powders, large machines, and laser beams. Metal additive manufacturing processes such as selective laser melting (SLM), selective laser sintering (SLS), and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) each use laser beams to fuse metal powders into 3D shapes. SLS and DMLS 3D printers heat the metal powders to a sufficient level so that they can fuse together at a molecular level, while SLM 3D printers go one step further, completely melting the metal powder before letting it solidify into the desired shape. All of these methods have been developed into highly effective additive manufacturing techniques, but a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh wants to better understand how exactly metals behave during the SLM process and in similar laser-melting processes.

Dr. Jörg M.K. Wiezorek, the project's P.I., plans to evaluate how "microstructures form in metals and alloys during the solidification process which follows laser beam melting." Their research is important because metal printing processes can be very temperamental, sometimes failing to adequately bond which causes part fractures.

Hail Pitt!