MALIBU, Calif. — HRL Laboratories, a Citrine Informatics research pilot customer, announced on April 15 that the Aluminum Association had granted HRL the first official registration for an alloy optimized for 3D printing.
The alloy, whose remarkable properties were originally reported in Nature in 2017, was developed using guidance from Citrine’s materials informatics platform. HRL will commercialize the new alloy, now designated as 7A77.50 in its powder form and 7A77.60L once printed, in the aerospace and automotive industries. The fact that HRL is first to commercialize a 3D-printable aluminum alloy is a prime example of Citrine’s impact: The Citrine platform enables customers to beat their competition to market with breakthrough materials.
HRL’s material is groundbreaking because almost all commercial aluminum alloys crack when 3D-printed. A team from HRL and UC Santa Barbara set out to solve this problem and reformulate existing aluminum alloys to make them amenable to 3D printing. During this alloy development process, Citrine’s platform identified possible chemical modifications to existing alloys that would enable 3D printing. In particular, a previous HRL press release notes, “To find the correct nanoparticles, in this case zirconium-based nanoparticles, the HRL team enlisted Citrine Informatics to help them sort through the myriad possible particles to find the one with the properties they needed.” In describing the impact of Citrine’s software, HRL materials scientist Brennan Yahata concluded, “We went from a haystack to a handful of possible needles.”