Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories researchers are three-dimensionally (3D) printing minerals, in order to learn to better predict how and where fractures form in materials. The team 3D-prints synthetic gypsum samples by laying down a layer of bassanite powder (a calcium sulfate mineral), spraying a binding agent across it, then depositing another layer of bassanite atop it; the end result is a gypsum sample that has layers bound together by gypsum crystal.
By printing samples with various mineral-fabric orientations to ascertain whether orientation had any impact on fracture formation when exposed to tension, Purdue's Liyang Jiang was able to identify each sample from the fracture's physical properties, and vice-versa. Predicting and understanding fractures has ramifications for enhancing the structural integrity of large 3D-printed components.
From Purdue University News
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