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Materials that can perform under high pressure, high-temperature environments are needed for automotive, aerospace, defense, and space applications. 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers have additively manufactured a lightweight aluminum alloy and demonstrated its ability to resist creep or deformation at 300 degrees Celsius.

The alloy, which combines aluminum with cerium and other metals, was printed using a laser powder bed system that deposits one thin layer of material at a time for precise results. Researchers printed pistons made of the alloy for deployment inside of a full-scale engine.

“Using powder-bed 3D printing allowed the alloy to rapidly solidify into fine, stable strengthening particles in the microstructure, resulting in the remarkable high-temp creep resistance we measured,” ORNL’s Ryan Dehoff said. “We expected notable improvements, but were surprised by how strong and stable these alloys proved to be.”

The pistons will undergo additional testing inside of an engine, according to