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03-03-2020

Nickel-free stainless steel parts by 3D Printing – Major advance at HES-SO Valais-Wallis

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Nickel-free stainless steel parts by 3D Printing © Powder Technology and Advanced Materials Group - HES-SO Valais-Wallis
Nickel-free stainless steel parts by 3D Printing

The Powder Technology and Advanced Materials Group has processed experimental nickel-free watch cases and bracelet segments by using its own technology. The first parts were 3D-printed and consolidated by high temperature sintering at the beginning of 2018. The development is currently ongoing. It is a logical follow-up of former successful efforts in using nickel-free steel powder with traditional techniques.

Nickel is usually present in stainless steels because it promotes special internal structures which results in improved corrosion resistance and non-magnetic behaviour. Both properties are important in watch making, medical instruments and implants. Unfortunately, nickel is allergenic, and can be harmful for all uses in which parts are in contact with the skin, as in jewellery applications. In the 90’s the team of Prof. Uggowitzer at ETHZ developed new steels where Nitrogen was used instead of Nickel to obtain a material with the same type of internal structure, which results in similar properties, with the advantage of being non allergenic.

Prof. Carreño-Morelli, who is the head of the research group at HES-SO Valais-Wallis and the inventor of the SG-3DP technology (Solvent on Granule 3D-Printing), is now leading the development of complex parts by additive manufacturing with a number of materials, including nickel-free steels, titanium alloys, and ceramic-metal composites among others.