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.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 19,401,935 — Total deaths: 721,906 — Total recoveries — 11,767,805Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 4,942,747 — Total deaths: 161,367 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

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(Photos: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

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Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation. Clinton and Warren represent two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November.