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3D Metal Printing

Tungsten (Wolfram) Can Now be Produced in 3D Printing Process

| Editor: Janina Seit

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have succeeded in printing tungsten (wolfram) with a commercial 3D printer.

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have succeeded in printing tungsten with a commercial 3D printer.
( Source: Pixabay / CC0 )

To print tungsten (wolfram), KIT researchers used the metal in powdered form and mixed it with a binding agent. This mixture is used to form the filament. “In order to obtain a tungsten component that is as pure as possible, we have to remove the binding system after the printing process," explains Dorit Nötzel from the Institute of Applied Materials (IAM) at the KIT. For this purpose, the printed objects are heated to more than 2,000 °C. During this thermal after-treatment, the individual powder grains of tungsten amalgamate and form a single component. The tungsten grid structure is sintered in a final step. It has an edge length of 7.5 mm × 7.5 mm, a height of 4 mm and the grid has a web thickness of about 400 µm," reports Steffen Antusch, also from the IAM.

In Karlsruhe, researchers succeeded in printing tungsten components. The high melting point and hardness are challenging features of this material.
In Karlsruhe, researchers succeeded in printing tungsten components. The high melting point and hardness are challenging features of this material.
( Source: Markus Breig, KIT )

Due to its high corrosion resistance, tungsten is an ideal material for equipment in chemical plants and its melting point of 3,400 °C makes it suitable for turbine blades of jet engines, for example. Due to its hardness and the high melting point, however, it is very difficult to machine this material. “By using 3D printing technology, we are now able to produce tungsten components that are used, for instance in fusion technology within the HGF Fusion Programme or in medical technology, faster and easier," says Antusch.

The range of filament materials developed by the IAM-WK team includes metal, ceramic and polymer materials. The scalability and production of complex components with different structural sizes can be individually adjusted and optimized according to the respective nozzle diameter and the content of solids.

The research on the 3D printing of tungsten was carried out as part of a DFG project.

Here you can read about the different methods of 3D metal printing.

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This article was first published by MaschinenMarkt.

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