$1.2 Million Grant Will Help Development of Metal Alloys for Hypersonic Conditions

Published on March 15, 2023 by Claire S.

Researchers at the University of Arizona have received a $1.2 million grant from the Office of Naval Research’s Defense University Research Instrumentation Program to  develop 3D printing materials capable of withstanding hypersonic speeds: Mach 5 or higher – five times faster than the speed of sound.

They will develop novel metallic alloys which are designed to be used for 3D printing, as currently, the metals used for additive manufacturing have not been made specifically for this purpose. Furthermore, these new alloys will be able to withstand hypersonic conditions, where there are high stress levels, and friction and air resistance generate high levels of heat. The team will put money towards instruments including a powder bed fusion system, a gas atomization system to convert molten metals into powders,and a vacuum furnace for post-processing of objects.

Metal alloys can be used for hypersonic conditions

Metal alloys combine the metallic element with another element, metal or non-metal (Photo credit: Tampa Steel)

As Sammy Tin, Department Head of Material Science and Engineering put it, “If we can develop materials and alloys that are specific to the 3D-printing process, we can customize alloy chemistries so that they have attributes that make it easier or more friendly for 3D printing.This means that 3D printing would become a more applicable process for industry, as common issues could be eliminated and the end products would have better or more suitable properties. 

Hypersonic flight and space exploration are among our university’s biggest strengths, and both require materials that can withstand extreme environments,” said University of  Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “I am proud to have faculty members like Sammy Tin and Andrew  Wessman working in this critical area an d raising  the University of Arizona’s  already-impressive profile in advanced manufacturing.” 

Sammy Tin (L) and Andrew Wessman (R) are joint researchers on the project (Photo credit: Arizona College of Engineering)

This project comes at a time when multiple nations are developing hypersonic technologies for defense and military purposes; for example, Lockheed Martin plans to arm the US Navy with hypersonic missiles, and Northrop Grumman is a USA firm using 3D printing to develop the technology. To find out more about this particular project, you can check out the University’s press release HERE.

What do you think of this project to create metal alloys which can withstand hypersonic speeds? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*Cover photo credit: Reaction/ BBC News

One comment

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  1. Sonic exe says:

    An amazing amount of funding.

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