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The Russian-Italian project contributes to recovering structural parts with powder steel with TRIP effect

The project “Study on 3D printing with advanced high-strength steels with TRIP effect for manufacturing self-adapting structural elements used in the aerospace industry” has been conducted by the scientists from NMSTU and the University of Padua (Padua, Italy) for three years.

“We collaborate with the University of Padua, and we have established long-term, good, friendly relations. When we saw an announcement about a competition for supporting projects with the participation of foreign organizations, held by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, we and our colleagues from Italy decided to take part in it. 84 applications were filed, but only 7 were supported. We do our part of the research, the Italian researchers do theirs, and then we share information. As part of this project, we received a patent last year. This year, we have applied for two patents, and we have already received one of them. Our team studies the possibility of using advanced steel, namely TRIP steel in a powder form, to produce specific products intended for aerospace engineering facilities according to the subject of the project. Within the framework of the project, there are certain indicators for the number of research papers, patents and the composition of the team, which should consist mostly of young scientists”, clarified Marina Polyakova, Professor of the Department of Materials Processing Technologies, NMSTU.

The NMSTU team includes 9 scientists: two mentors, experienced specialists, and seven young scientists, who have already proved themselves in the research field, having won several grants and received several patents.

As part of this project, the NMSTU scientists also collaborate with their colleagues from Yekaterinburg, Mikheev Institute of Metal Physics of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Chelyabinsk, South Ural State University (National Research University). Thus, last year the researchers from Yekaterinburg studied the properties of powder; scientists from SUSU use their laser equipment to deposit powder on specific parts.

The objective set for the colleagues from Italy was manufacturing powder. Such iron-based powder has a unique chemical composition: the material (TRIP steel) is unique, as it starts hardening at applied external load, resulting in characteristic phase transitions. As explained by Marina Polyakova, this steel is not fundamentally new or newly developed, as the chemical composition of the material is well-known, modern metallurgy has learnt the technology of melting TRIP steels. As part of the project, the scientists use this material as powder, whose particles, sizing up to 100 µm, contain iron, aluminum, silicon, and manganese.

“This year our objective is to show not just the results of the study on the material, its microstructure under various impacts, but already its application on specific parts, namely the possibility of using TRIP steel powder and the 3D printing method to produce specific parts. For example, we took a well-worn part and applied powder on it. Powder is heated by the laser beam and then applied on the surface; as a result, the part acquires its original shape. We proved the possibility of recovering worn areas of the part of a rather complex shape, namely, we used a gear in our research. Conventional machining methods can be used to finish the part to its final geometric dimensions. We show the possibility of using powder and the 3D printing method to recover various machine parts. Such parts operate in friction units, gearboxes, which are also applied in aerospace engineering. To work in space, we need special materials that provide the required properties and show their long service life in conditions, where there are significant loads, temperature differences, vacuum conditions, exposure to solar radiation, and so on”, explained the professor.

This project is a continuation of another research project conducted by the NMSTU scientists with their colleagues from Italy, when TRIP steel is also used, but in metalware. The said project was devoted to manufacturing wire and ropes. The scientists showed that such steel could be used for producing conventional metalware. Later, the experience was transformed into an idea of using such steel, but as powder.

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