Advanced MaterialsAM ResearchMaterialsMetalsResearch & Education

AM of a precious bulk metallic glass shows promise for jewellery

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

A study conducted by Swiss researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and ETH in Zurich has produced, for the first time via additive manufacturing, a high-density amorphous and crack-free bulk metallic glass (BMG) based on palladium alloy. The results show significant promise in the use of such material in the additive manufacturing of watches and jewelry.

Bulk Metallic Glasses, also commonly called BMGs (or glassy metals), represent the fringe of non-crystalline solid materials and advanced materials in general. Their high strength and hardness, combined with a surprising elasticity make them ideal for industrial innovation. 3D printing of metallic glass is being studied for use in the military sector and in space research, and they may also be able to replace conventional engineering materials in many more applications, including electronics, sports equipment and jewelry. Some early AM applications of metallic have emerged for the medical sector in particular.

In the EPFL-ETH study, Pd-based Pd43Cu27Ni10P20 bulk metallic glass (BMG) parts, manufactured via Laser Powder-Bed Fusion (LPBF) were characterized, looking in detail at the microstructure and mechanical properties of the bulk samples, and the crystallization kinetics of the amorphous powder particles.

The parts achieved a density of 99.6% and displayed excellent mechanical properties such as high hardness and compressive strength were achieved, overcoming the limitations usually found for precious metals in jewelry and watchmaking.

Furthermore, without any post-processing, a mirror-like smooth and brilliant surface was directly obtained, which is highly beneficial for applications where surface finish or aesthetics matters. The effect of the main processing parameters, such as laser power and laser scanning speed, on the shape of single tracks was investigated by laser confocal microscopy (LCM).

Following the single-track experiments, highly amorphous 3D printed samples were produced. The samples were characterized by optical microscopy (OM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), conventional and synchrotron X-ray diffraction (XRD), micro-computed tomography (μ-CT), compression tests, and microhardness. The crystallization kinetics of the powder alloy was investigated via fast differential scanning calorimetry (FDSC).

A small quantity of the powder (< 70 g) was used for the fabrication of samples, alleviating the cost of the process. The study demonstrated the efficient production of precious metal parts with enhanced mechanical properties while highlighting that, despite the good glass-forming ability (GFA) of Pd-based BMG, the critical aspects in LPBF fabrication for avoiding crystallization are not so much the thermal conditions related to laser parameters, as much as the absence of impurities during the LPBF process.

Polymer AM Market 2023

899 polymer AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core polymer AM market generated over $5.5 billion in 2022. Market expected to grow to $45 billion by 2032 at 23.3% CAGR. This new market...

Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services


Join our 12,000+ Professional community and get weekly AM industry insights straight to your inbox. Our editor-curated newsletter equips executives, engineers, and end-users with crucial updates, helping you stay ahead.