Additive manufacturing enables the development of new materials with highly tailored, superior and/or functional performance taking advantage of the inherent microstructural design possible with these processes and technologies. New, lower-cost, high-temperature materials for boiler, turbine and other components are needed to support potential gains in energy efficiency that can be made through advanced combustion approaches under consideration. At the same time, new polymers such as bio based polymers, high temperature polymers, and new reinforcement materials for composites have the potential to enable light vehicle structures that may also be highly recyclable.
ORNL has developed new methods to gain unprecedented control over local crystallographic orientation (texture) in bulk metal components and the orientation of fibers or chemistry of polymers in polymeric based composites. Ultimately three-dimensional control over local texture with sub-millimeter resolution is possible. This insight has opened up new thoughts and theory in microstructure control in metals, ceramics, polymers, and hybrid materials.