Researchers examine 3D printing for innovation in alloy materials

Hip and knee replacements help millions around the world to be able to enjoy renewed mobility. But an underlying fact is the same materials are used in these implants since the 1960s. Originally designed for the US space program and rocketry, titanium is a strong material, is corrosion resistant and lightweight. On the downside, titanium is not particularly well-matched for human bones and tissue, and often lead to eventual failure of the implants.

The use of 3D in the design of materials is leading to an evolution in how materials can be designed, and allow materials to be better designed to be used in industries that can better serve society needs.

The researchers provide a roadmap for academics and industry to use 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing to design new alloys.

The use of 3D printing actually provides the spin to restart the designing of alloys with specific purposes, and this is the attraction of the technique. A variety of alloys are expected to be designed using 3D printing in the next decade.

Meanwhile, 3D is not only a platform to create a shape. 3D printing is also a platform to make new compositions for specific applications.

For instance, for hip and knee implants, over the years, researchers have added coatings to try to improve compatibility. Meanwhile, hip and knee replacement procedures often face infection on the implants when bacteria finds an attractive site to breed.

In fact, going back to the drawing board and re-designing an alloy that is suitable to coexist in the ecosystem or is bacteria resistant is a good idea. Earlier, in the past, industries were held back from re-designing materials because of the cost involved.