NanoSteel develops case-hardening steel for laser powder-bed fusion

NanoSteel has launched its first product for the laser powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing process.

Nanostructured steel materials maker NanoSteel (Providence, RI) has launched its first product for the laser powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) process.

BLDRmetal L-40 is a case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility (case hardness >70HRC, with 10%+ core elongation), and prints easily on standard commercial equipment. This alloy is an alternative to difficult-to-print tool steels such as H13, and expands the potential use of 3D printing in a wide variety of hard materials markets. The powder is designed to be used for parts including tools, dies, bearings, and gears.

The capabilities of this material were demonstrated by printing an 8-in roll thread die set, which outperformed dies machined from D2 and M2 tool steels. "We tried nearly every combination of material and conventional CNC machining process to create our dual-thread die sets, none of which could cut or grind the complicated dual-thread geometry," says Mark Doll, president and CEO of Perfect Lock Bolt America (Rocklin, CA), which manufactures dual-thread fasteners that are resistant to self-loosening. "The NanoSteel solution delivers exactly what we are looking for, including excellent surface finish, flexibility, as well as strength and hardness for maximum die life. This is a welcomed technological innovation to the fastener industry. We have been pleased with our testing and are slated to start production this year."

NanoSteel developed this high-hardness alloy through rapid iterative development at CFK GmbH (Kriftel, Germany), a 3D printing service provider whose expertise was instrumental in developing the die from concept to finished part. "For us, the most important attributes of NanoSteel’s BLDRmetal L-40 are that it is easily implemented and creates crack-free, high-hardness components, which sets it apart from the many other tool steels we have tested," says Christoph Over, CEO at CFK. “We are proud to be a preferred printing service provider for NanoSteel, which will allow us to continue to offer the most valuable products to our customers.”

Building off earlier products for binder jet printing, NanoSteel continues to expand its product family for additive manufacturing.

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