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Shape Memory Alloy Research Opens New AM Frontiers

One of the greatest promises of additive manufacturing is enabling new technologies, especially new paradigms in functional complexity.

A big limitation of shape memory alloys (SMAs) like nickel–titanium (NiTi) is that their unique characteristics only work with relatively simple, axially symmetric shapes like tubes and square stock. Conventional NiTi SMAs require cold work to achieve the proper superelastic behavior; while additive manufacturing could enable more complex part geometries, postprocessing requirements like cold work negate AM as a reasonable processing method.

ADAPT collaborated with NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and ADAPT member Confluent Medical Technologies to develop 38 wrought NiTiHf SMAs for custom functional performance. These compositions cover a range of functional performances, including high-temperature actuators, biomedical implants and ultra-dent-resistant bearing materials. Funding for the work was provided by NASA GRC, Confluent and the National Science Foundation.

These alloys, which use hafnium as a strengthening precipitate, hold the promise of requiring only heat treatment to attain functional shape memory performance. This opens the door to using AM to fabricate metal parts with shape memory characteristics and geometries that are far more complex than those made with conventional NiTi alloys.

Compared with the cold work required to add strength to NiTi, new NiTiHf alloys reach high strength and superelasticity through the formation of H-phase precipitates without cold working. These alloys can therefore be good candidates for using AM for SMAs.

Our researcher of the month, Dr. Behnam Amin-Ahmadi, has collaborated with NASA and Confluent to apply different chemical compositions and heat treatments to NiTiHf alloys to achieve the desired mechanical properties and martensitic transformation temperatures. The microstructures of these alloys have been investigated in detail using advanced microscopy techniques. These fundamental studies reveal the responsible mechanisms affecting transformation temperature, superelasticity and plastic deformation in these alloys.

Once ideal alloy compositions were identified, two more ADAPT members contributed to the work: ATI Specialty Materials made the compositions in bulk powder (with cost share from ATI and funding from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade), and Elementum 3D printed test parts for characterization work in the ADAPT lab.

Read more about the project »

Member Corner

3D Systems showcases industry-leading manufacturing solutions designed to reduce complexity, lower costs and deliver higher quality parts faster at EMO 2019 Read more »

SEAKR Engineering is building RF processors for Saturn Satellite Networks’ small GEO satellite  Read more »
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Sept. 11: Monthly Members Meeting: R&D project updates from students & faculty

Tom Gallmeyer Wins Best Paper Award

ADAPT PhD student Thomas Gallmeyer won the Best Paper Award at the 11th annual GVSETS & APBI (Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering and Technology Symposium and Advanced Planning Briefings for Industry). Tom’s paper is titled “Systematic Development of Framework for Validation and Performance Quantification of Additively Manufactured (AM) Replacement Parts for Structural Steel Applications.” Read more »

Researcher of the Month

Dr. Behnam Amin-Ahmadi is a research assistant professor with the Beam Team, the research group led by Dr. Aaron Stebner. His work has focused on developing and engineering biomedical NiTi-X shape memory alloys for novel additive manufacturing techniques. In his research, Behnam has collaborated with Confluent Medical Technologies and NASA Glenn Research Center.

Highlights of his career include publishing 32 peer-reviewed journal articles in high-impact-factor journals and giving more than 25 presentations at international conferences, all dealing with characterization of metals and alloys using advanced electron microscopy techniques. His shape memory work has also led to the filing of two patents.

He has contributed to the application and development of advanced electron microscopy techniques such as SEM, TEM, STEM/STEM-EDX, EBSD and FIB and a variety of in situ TEM techniques for nano-characterization of various metals and alloys. Behnam also has extensive experience in compression testing, tensile testing and strain mapping. Behnam applies his wide-ranging microscopy and mechanical testing knowledge to the characterization of additively manufactured parts at different length scales and to training graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.

Behnam earned his BS from the Sahand University of Technology, Iran, his MS from Sharif University of Technology, Iran, and his PhD from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, all in materials science and engineering.

ADAPT Opens New Lab Space at Mines

ADAPT celebrated the grand opening of its new research facilities in the CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering as part of the Optimize for AdditiveSM workshop in August. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by ADAPT members and workshop guests as well as Mines leadership and state officials. The new facilities include:

Mines Advanced Visualization and Simulation (MAVS) Studio: Dedicated to virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) for materials manufacturing research and education, the MAVS Studio is led by Garritt Tucker, associate professor of mechanical engineering
Hildreth Lab: Led by Owen Hildreth, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, the chemistry lab focuses on phenomena involved in nanometer- to centimeter-scale additive manufacturing technologies, including dissolvable supports for 3D-printed metals and the use of reactive inks to reduce the costs of solar cells.
Data-Driven Advanced Manufacturing & Mechanics Lab: This laboratory, dedicated to developing high-throughput, data-informed manufacturing and mechanical behavior research and development technologies, is directed by Aaron Stebner, Rowlinson Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Research capabilities extend to the Advanced Manufacturing Program teaching lab in nearby Brown Hall, led by Craig Brice, professor of practice in mechanical engineering. This lab is dedicated to student exploration of various equipment and systems, with options to work with polymers, metals, ceramics and biological materials while also optimizing structural design and capturing and interpreting important process data.

“The opening of these new facilities at Mines provides permanence to ADAPT’s ability to fulfill its mission of optimizing additive manufacturing” said Stebner, executive director of ADAPT. “These state-of-the-art laboratories provide the foundational tools and spaces for ADAPT to meet the challenges put to us by our industry and government members.” 

Article adapted from Mines Newsroom. View original article here.

The Advanced Manufacturing Program is now registering MS Non-Thesis and Certificate students for the 2019–2020 academic year. Learn more at, or contact Craig Brice, program director, at
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