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Jan 8, 2019 | By Cameron

The Department of Community and Economic Development has awarded a $57,000 grant to the University of Pittsburgh and General Carbide Corporation to investigate effective methods of 3D printing with tungsten carbide powders. Laser sintering technologies that work well on steel and titanium alloys cause tungsten to crack; tungsten is susceptible to fractures when exposed to extreme temperature gradients.

“Additive manufacturing is increasingly adopted by industry to build highly complex metal parts, but the rapid local heating and cooling during energy beam-based 3D metal printing produces large thermal gradients which cause tungsten carbide to crack,” said Markus Chmielus, assistant professor at Pitt. “Binder jet 3D printing is more effective because it selectively joins powder particles with a binder, one microscopic layer on top of another and without any temperature fluctuations during printing.”

The binding method requires annealing the part in a high-temp oven after it’s 3D printed, which doesn’t create temperature gradients as the heat is evenly distributed. Tungsten is incredibly hard, so being able to 3D print with the material would benefit many industries. “This research will enable General Carbide to expand our portfolio with more complex and versatile parts at a lower cost by partnering with the Swanson School and leveraging its expertise in binder jet 3D printing and additive manufacturing process optimization,” stated Drew Elhassid, Chief Metallurgist and Manager of Lab, Pressing, and Powder Production at General Carbide. “Additive manufacturing is especially useful when needed to create the most demanding but low-count parts that we wouldn’t necessarily build on a consistent basis.”

Cost sharing from General Carbide and the University’s Swanson School of Engineering will bring the total funding to $145,000.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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