NASA’s newly developed metal alloy will be used in aviation, and space exploration is up to 1,000 times stronger than advanced alloys it has made in the past, the space agency said. in a press release.
To counter the formidable challenges of launch missions, NASA is always on the lookout for new materials that can withstand the rigors of launch and the extreme cold of outer space. The newly found material has been dubbed GRX-810 and can be classified as an Oxide Dispersion Strengthened (ODS) alloy and can withstand harsh conditions before reaching its breaking point.
Material modeling by trial and error
For its recent discovery, NASA turned to materials modeling to determine which combinations of metals would provide the optimal results. Before that, discovering new materials was a process of trial and error, often taking years of work to arrive at a suitable material.
By combining material modeling with additive manufacturing (3D printing), the space agency was able to quickly determine the required composition of the alloy it wanted and was also able to produce it in an equally short period of time. The modeling method used by the agency enabled it to arrive at the ideal composition of the alloy after only 30 simulations.
“What used to take years through a process of trial and error now takes weeks or months to make discoveries,” said Dale Hopkins, deputy project manager for NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project.
The newly made alloy can withstand temperatures over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 degrees Celsius) and is 1,000 times more durable at higher temperatures. The alloy is more malleable, but it also has three and a half times the flexibility to stretch or bend before fracture and twice the strength to resist fracture.
“Previously, an increase in tensile strength generally reduced a material’s ability to stretch and bend before breaking, which is why our new alloy is remarkable,” added Hopkins.
The flexibilities offered by the new material will bring vast performance improvements, allowing designers to account for trade-offs they previously could not consider, the press release states.
Additionally, to deliver material improvements quickly, the use of additive manufacturing also paves the way for cost savings over conventional processes.
“This breakthrough is revolutionary for materials development. New types of stronger, lighter materials play a key role as NASA aims to change the future of flight,” Hopkins said in the press release.