Rotherham-based company Metalysis just teamed up with engineers from Sheffield University to roll out the world’s first 3D-printed titanium car parts! The company has developed a novel process for producing titanium powder from sand to make the metal much more affordable. Although the technology for producing titanium parts is not quite ready for mass production, the company’s techniques for 3D printing car parts could cut waste and dramatically reduce the energy needed to power large-scale automotive plants and the long assembly lines housed within.

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Previously we saw that 3D printing can be used to create car parts for a ludicrously fast 1,000 MPH car, and now Metalysis is working on developing fabricated metal parts for everyday cars.

Up until now, titanium powder was produced by atomizing blocks of metal. Metalysis discovered a novel process that’s much more affordable – the company uses electrolysis to extract a naturally occurring titanium ore from rutile sand found on beaches. The group then uses a laser-sintering printer to melt the fine metal powders into a fused, solid metal object.

The team says that additive manufacturing is much more economical than using large assembly lines to machine parts by cutting away at large sheets of metal. 3D printing could help reduce the size of current automotive factories, since a small set of printers could create parts from scratch.

So far, Metalysis has used the technology to print impellers and turbochargers (both of which are used in conjunction with fuel injection), as well as aerofoils (the wing blade of an airplane propeller or boat rotor. The Sheffield University researchers plan to work with Metalysis to create other materials using the titanium powder such as alloys that would normally separate when formed with conventional titanium.

+ Metalysis

Via The Engineer

Images © University of Cambridge and General Motors