Printing...steel?

For some context, since I completely lacked any, this comment from HN is interesting:

For those who may be unaware: martensitic steels encompass all standard tool steels, e.g the ones used for knives, springs, dies, files etc. martensitic means hardenable.

Being able to 3D print these into arbitrary shapes vs machining them will likely be of the most value for parts that need to be light.

I’m curious that they mention wanting to print low alloy steels, since low alloy steels tend to be relatively easy to machine. I’d have expected more interest in higher performance steels. Can anyone comment why people would want to print in low-alloy martensitic steel?

The article doesn’t address this, but, the martensitic transformation typically changes a part’s volume by ~4%. that can make it difficult to make precision parts unless final finishing happens at full hardness. I wonder if this process results in direct production of martensite, or if the parts still need heat treatment.

To me, this is a very interesting process, but doubly so given the possibilities of generative design. For those who want to visualize why you might want to 3D print steels vs machining them, think more about brackets and support structures than turbines, and take a look at some generative design parts.

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