Materials | Free Full-Text | In Search of the Optimal Conditions to Process Shape Memory Alloys (NiTi) Using Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)

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This research was performed so as to investigate the additive manufacturing of NiTi shape memory alloys, which is associated with direct processes, such as selective laser melting. In addition to its expensive production costs, NiTi readily undergoes chemical and phase modifications, mainly as a result of Ni loss during processing as a result of high temperatures. This research explores the potential usefulness of NiTi as well as its limitations using indirect additive processes, such as fused filament fabrication (FFF). The first step was to evaluate the NiTi critical powder volume content (CPVC) needed to process high-quality filaments (via extrusion). A typical 3D printer can build a selected part/system/device layer-by-layer from the filaments, followed by debinding and sintering (SDS), in order to generate a near-net-shape object. The mixing, extruding (filament), printing (shaping), debinding, and sintering steps were extensively studied in order to optimize their parameters. Moreover, for the sintering step, two main targets should be met, namely: the reduction of contamination during the process in order to avoid the formation of secondary phases, and the decrease in sintering temperature, which also contributes to reducing the production costs. This study aims to demonstrate the possibility of using FFF as an additive manufacturing technology for processing NiTi.

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