Hunter Martin described some of the research challenges:
The HRL researchers came up with a method they've called nanofunctionalization, where nano-functionalized powders are fed to a 3D printer. This is applied in thin layers which are heated by a laser to solidify into a three-dimensional object. During melting and solidification, the structures produced using this method don't crack and are able to maintain their full alloy strength, thanks to the nanoparticles acting as nucleation sites for the intended alloy microstructure.
"Our first goal was figuring out how to eliminate the hot cracking altogether. We sought to control microstructure and the solution should be something that naturally happens with the way this material solidifies," Martin said.
• Metallurgy Breakthrough: 3D Printing High-Strength Aluminum (YouTube / HRL via Futurism)