Materials scientists are researching improvements to implants

Materials scientists are researching improvements to implants

A team of materials scientists at the University of Leoben is working on improving medical implants with the help of additive manufacturing. Their research work was recently published in the journal "Advanced Functional Materials".

Dipl.-Ing. Sepide Hadibeik, Dr. Florian Spieckermann and Jürgen Eckert from the Department of Materials Science at the University of Leoben, in cooperation with the Swiss Advanced Manufacturing Center in Biel, have used an advanced process for the additive manufacturing of metallic glasses for the first time. Standard alloys are currently used for 3D printing, but often do not achieve the properties of conventional manufacturing processes. "We are researching new alloys to change this," explains Spieckermann. They use a powerful laser beam to shape these special metals.

Metallic glasses

The starting point for the investigations is so-called metallic lenses. In contrast to conventional window or spectacle lenses, these have different properties. Their structures are amorphous, i.e. the atoms do not have a repeating structure and are therefore not crystalline. This structure also changes their physical properties: they are harder, more corrosion-resistant and stronger than conventional metals. As part of the study, it was possible to produce almost completely amorphous and dense samples of metallic glass, whereby the atomic order was optimized to improve productivity and fracture resistance.

New method

Previous methods for producing such metal glasses could only produce small parts. But now the researchers are showing that their new laser beam process delivers promising results for the production of large and complicated structures. Until now, 3D printing machines that produced similar metals had a problem: the already solidified layers became too hot again when they were heated up. This impaired their mechanical properties. But with the new method, the researchers can better control the temperature and improve the properties of the glass by shaping the laser beam into a flat, wide form using special optics. This makes the material more stable and flexible.
This new technique could greatly expand the possibilities for the production of metal glasses and other alloys," explains Hadibeik. When asked where these findings could be applied, the research team thinks of medical implants as well as components for the electronics industry.

Link to the publication:­.202470066

Erich Schmid Institute

The Erich Schmid Institute for Materials Science (ESI for short) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) is a research institute run in cooperation with the University of Leoben. The head of the Chair of Materials Physics at the University of Leoben is also the head of the Academy Institute. It specializes in the microstructural investigation, experimentation and modelling of materials such as steel or alloys as well as functional materials (e.g. implant materials).