NASA engineers develop super-strong 3D printed alloy for aircraft and spacecraft parts

GRX-810 is 600 times more resistant to stress than existing alloys.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A NASA logo made of GRX-810..jpg
A NASA logo made of GRX-810.


NASA engineers have achieved a significant breakthrough in 3D printable high-temperature materials (alloys) that could lead to stronger, more durable parts for airplanes and spacecraft. The resulting new alloy is 600 times more resistant to stress than existing alloys.

The project was the result of a collaboration between NASA and Ohio State University and the new alloy is called GRX-810. 

This is according to a report by NASA, published on Thursday.

“This superalloy has the potential to dramatically improve the strength and toughness of components and parts used in aviation and space exploration,” said Dr. Tim Smith of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, lead author of the new paper. Smith and his Glenn colleague Christopher Kantzos invented GRX-810. 

The new alloy was made through computer modeling, as well as a laser 3D printing process that fused the metals together, layer-by-layer. The NASA logo pictured above is made from GRX-810.

“This new alloy is a major achievement,” said Dale Hopkins, deputy project manager of NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project. “In the very near future, it may well be one of the most successful technology patents NASA Glenn has ever produced.”

GRX-810 is described by NASA as an oxide dispersion strengthened alloy. This means tiny particles containing oxygen atoms spread throughout the alloy enhance its strength. 

Ideal for aerospace parts

These types of alloys are ideal for building aerospace parts for high-temperature applications, like those inside aircraft and rocket engines, because they can withstand harsher conditions before reaching their breaking points.

Today’s 3D printed superalloys can withstand temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. GRX-810, however, is twice as strong, over 1,000 times more durable, and twice as resistant to oxidation.

GRX-810 was developed under NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project, with support from the agency’s Game Changing Development Program.

A team of contributors from Glenn, NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and The Ohio State University co-authored the new paper, according to the NASA statement.

Metal alloys have a variety of applications including in supporting nuclear fusion energy.

The peer-reviewed paper was published in the journal Nature.

Study abstract:

Multiprincipal-element alloys are an enabling class of materials owing to their impressive mechanical and oxidation-resistant properties, especially in extreme environments. Here we develop a new oxide-dispersion-strengthened NiCoCr-based alloy using a model-driven alloy design approach and laser-based additive manufacturing. This oxide-dispersion-strengthened alloy, called GRX-810, uses laser powder bed fusion to disperse nanoscale Y2O3 particles throughout the microstructure without the use of resource-intensive processing steps such as mechanical or in situ alloying. We show the successful incorporation and dispersion of nanoscale oxides throughout the GRX-810 build volume via high-resolution characterization of its microstructure. The mechanical results of GRX-810 show a twofold improvement in strength, over 1,000-fold better creep performance and twofold improvement in oxidation resistance compared with the traditional polycrystalline wrought Ni-based alloys used extensively in additive manufacturing at 1,093 °C. The success of this alloy highlights how model-driven alloy designs can provide superior compositions using far fewer resources compared with the ‘trial-and-error’ methods of the past. These results showcase how future alloy development that leverages dispersion strengthening combined with additive manufacturing processing can accelerate the discovery of revolutionary materials.