Home » NASA hails new 3D-printed superalloy that could create more durable aircraft, spacecraft

NASA hails new 3D-printed superalloy that could create more durable aircraft, spacecraft

by Liam Turner
Nasa logo signage at Cape Canaveral

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has hailed a “breakthrough” in 3D-printable high-temperature materials that it says could lead to stronger, more durable parts for airplanes and spacecraft.

A team of innovators from NASA and The Ohio State University detailed the characteristics of the new 3D-printed superalloy, GRX-810, in a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Nature.

Dr. Tim Smith of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, lead author of the Nature paper, said: “This superalloy has the potential to dramatically improve the strength and toughness of components and parts used in aviation and space exploration.”

Smith and his Glenn colleague Christopher Kantzos invented GRX-810. 

Smith and his team employed time-saving computer modeling, as well as a laser 3D-printing process that fused metals together, layer-by-layer, to create the new alloy.

GRX-810 is an oxide dispersion strengthened alloy – meaning, tiny particles containing oxygen atoms spread throughout the alloy enhance its strength.

NASA says such alloys are excellent candidates to build aerospace parts for high-temperature applications, such as those inside aircraft and rocket engines, because they can withstand harsher conditions before reaching their breaking points.

Current state-of-the-art 3D printed superalloys can withstand temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Compared with those, NASA says GRX-810 is twice as strong, over 1,000 times more durable, and twice as resistant to oxidation.

‘Major achievement’

A team of contributors from Glenn, NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; and The Ohio State University co-authored the Nature paper.  

GRX-810 was developed under NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project, with support from the agency’s Game Changing Development Program.

Dale Hopkins, deputy project manager of NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project, said: “This new alloy is a major achievement – in the very near future, it may well be one of the most successful technology patents NASA Glenn has ever produced.”

Image credit: Edwin Verin/Shutterstock

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