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Ultrastrong nanotwinned titanium alloys through additive manufacturing

Abstract

Titanium alloys, widely used in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors, require complex casting and thermomechanical processing to achieve the high strengths required for load-bearing applications. Here we reveal that additive manufacturing can exploit thermal cycling and rapid solidification to create ultrastrong and thermally stable titanium alloys, which may be directly implemented in service. As demonstrated in a commercial titanium alloy, after simple post-heat treatment, adequate elongation and tensile strengths over 1,600 MPa are achieved. The excellent properties are attributed to the unusual formation of dense, stable and internally twinned nanoprecipitates, which are rarely observed in traditionally processed titanium alloys. These nanotwinned precipitates are shown to originate from a high density of dislocations with a dominant screw character and formed from the additive manufacturing process. The work here paves the way to fabricate structural materials with unique microstructures and excellent properties for broad applications.

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Fig. 1: Tensile mechanical response of commercial Beta-C titanium alloys produced by LPBF and post-heat treatments.
Fig. 2: Microstructures of the LPBF as-built and post-heat-treated Beta-C titanium alloy.
Fig. 3: Nanotwinned α-precipitates in the LPBF microstructure after post-heat treatment (480 °C/6 h).
Fig. 4: MD simulation of nanotwinned precipitation around dense screw dislocations.

Data availability

The data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper and its Supplementary Information.

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Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge the use of instruments and scientific and technical assistance at the Monash Centre for Electron Microscopy (MCEM) as a Node of Microscopy Australia and the Monash Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN) in the Victorian Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF). A.H. and Y.Z. would like to thank the funding support from Guotong AM Tech. Y.Z. wants to acknowledge the financial support from the Australian Research Council by means of DE170100307. H.W. wishes to thank the funding support from the Key Research Program of Frontier Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (QYZDJ-SSW-JSC031).

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Contributions

Y.Z., H.W. and A.H. generated the idea and designed the experiments. Kun Zhang performed the sample fabrication and preliminary microstructure examinations using SEM. Kun Zhang, Kai Zhang and S.C.V.L. performed the mechanical tests. Y.Z. performed the conventional and atomic-resolution TEM. M.W. performed the energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy experiment. Z.M. and H.W. performed the MD simulations. H.P. and Y.Z. performed the dislocation analysis through XRD. P.H., N.B., H.L.F. and R.Y. verified the data. Y.Z. prepared the manuscript. A.H. supervised the research. All the authors participated in the discussion of the results and revision of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yuman Zhu, Hao Wang or Aijun Huang.

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Nature Materials thanks Amy Clarke and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Zhu, Y., Zhang, K., Meng, Z. et al. Ultrastrong nanotwinned titanium alloys through additive manufacturing. Nat. Mater. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-022-01359-2

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