The NanoSteel Company expanded the companys engineered powders business into additive manufacturing. By leveraging its uniform metal matrix microstructures in the laser-sintering process, the company was able to build a crack-free, fully dense bulk sample. NanoSteels initial focus in additive manufacturing supports the market need for on-demand on-site wear parts while addressing the current challenges in 3D printing of high-hardness parts.
NanoSteels breakthrough overcomes one of the major hurdles to achieving high-hardness metallic parts through additive manufacturing their tendency to develop cracks during part build. The company worked with a global process development partner to optimise processing of a proprietary NanoSteel alloy with a high volume fraction of borocarbide phases. This successfully produced a fully dense (99.9 percent) crack-free part with hardness values over 1000HV, wear resistance comparable to conventionally manufactured M2 tool steels, and a uniform microstructure. Importantly, these properties were achieved without the need for post-processing such as hot isostatic pressing (HIP) or further heat treatment, reducing production cost and lead times.
The company is currently extending this breakthrough into more complex geometries and broadening its property sets to fully validate the market potential for 3D-printed steel components.