The nanoparticle-functionalized powder is fed into a 3D printer, which layers the powder and laser-fuses each layer to construct the object. Photo: B. Ferguson

A new method of 3D-printing reported in Nature today could churn out weldable aluminum alloy parts to make lightweight and speedy planes and cars.

  • How it works: In 3D-printing, metal parts can be constructed layer by layer but most metal alloys can't be printed this way because current processes cause them to crack. By coating aluminum powder with nanoparticles of zirconium, the researchers were able to print aluminum alloy without it cracking. The printing process is similar to welding so the researchers think they can turn unweldable alloys into weldable ones.
  • But, but, but: "There is still some way to go ... before this becomes the 'go-to' manufacturing technology for aerospace applications," the researchers wrote. One additional problem to address is making metal parts that are strong but also resilient after repeated use.
  • What's next: Researchers said the technology could eventually be expanded for use in building cars and trucks.

Go deeper

Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

Joe Biden speaks Friday about "The Biden Plan to Beat COVID-19," at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Science

The murder hornets are here

A braver man than me holds a speciment of the Asian giant hornet. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

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