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Title:
POWDER MIXTURE FOR USE IN THE MANUFACTURE OF A THREE-DIMENSIONAL OBJECT BY MEANS OF AN ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/105563
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Powder mixture for use in the manufacture of a three-dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, wherein the powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material, wherein the first material comprises a steel in powder form, wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement material different from the first material, wherein the powder mixture is adapted to form a composite object when solidified by means of an electromagnetic and/or particle radiation in the additive manufacturing method, and wherein the reinforcement material comprises nanoparticles.

Inventors:
HEIKKINEN, Hannu (Leväkatu 5 A, Kaarina, 20780, FI)
MUTANEN, Antti (Sirkkalankatu 25 B as. 38, Turku, 20700, FI)
PÖRHÖNEN, Antti (Kaarnatie 8 A4, Turku, 20540, FI)
NYSTRÖM, Maija (Sepänkatu 6 B 56, Turku, 20700, FI)
SYVÄNEN, Tatu (Nummitie 20, Preitilä, 21540, FI)
NYRHILÄ, Olli (Pajatie 7, Kuusisto, 21620, FI)
Application Number:
EP2017/081071
Publication Date:
June 06, 2019
Filing Date:
November 30, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
EOS GMBH ELECTRO OPTICAL SYSTEMS (Robert-Stirling-Ring 1, Krailling, 82152, DE)
International Classes:
B22F3/105; B33Y70/00; C22C1/05; C22C33/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017197361A12017-11-16
WO2017037713A12017-03-09
Foreign References:
EP1762122A12007-03-14
Other References:
ALMANGOUR BANDAR ET AL: "Selective laser melting of TiC reinforced 316L stainless steel matrix nanocomposites: Influence of starting TiC particle size and volume content", MATERIALS & DESIGN, ELSEVIER, AMSTERDAM, NL, vol. 104, 10 May 2016 (2016-05-10), pages 141 - 151, XP029571246, ISSN: 0264-1275, DOI: 10.1016/J.MATDES.2016.05.018
ALMANGOUR BANDAR ET AL: "Scanning strategies for texture and anisotropy tailoring during selective laser melting of TiC/316L stainless steel nanocomposites", JOURNAL OF ALLOYS AND COMPOUNDS, vol. 728, 5 August 2017 (2017-08-05), pages 424 - 435, XP085226080, ISSN: 0925-8388, DOI: 10.1016/J.JALLCOM.2017.08.022
BANDAR ALMANGOUR ET AL: "Rapid fabrication of bulk-form TiB 2 /316L stainless steel nanocomposites with novel reinforcement architecture and improved performance by selective laser melting", JOURNAL OF ALLOYS AND COMPOUNDS., vol. 680, 19 April 2016 (2016-04-19), CH, pages 480 - 493, XP055490321, ISSN: 0925-8388, DOI: 10.1016/j.jallcom.2016.04.156
SPRINGER H ET AL: "Efficient additive manufacturing production of oxide- and nitride-dispersion-strengthened materials through atmospheric reactions in liquid metal deposition", MATERIALS & DESIGN, ELSEVIER, AMSTERDAM, NL, vol. 111, 30 August 2016 (2016-08-30), pages 60 - 69, XP029783882, ISSN: 0264-1275, DOI: 10.1016/J.MATDES.2016.08.084
DONGDONG GU ET AL., APPLIED SURFACE SCIENCE, vol. 255, 2008, pages 1880 - 1887
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRÜFER & PARTNER MBB PATENTANWÄLTE RECHTSANWÄLTE (Sohnckestr. 12, München, 81479, DE)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Powder mixture for use in the manufacture of a three- dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, wherein the powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material,

wherein the first material comprises a steel powder, wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement mate rial different from the first material,

wherein the powder mixture is adapted to form a composite object when solidified by means of an electromagnetic and/or a particle radiation in the additive manufacturing method, and

wherein the reinforcement material comprises nanoparticles.

2. Powder mixture according to claim 1,

wherein the nanoparticles are embedded in a matrix of the composite object at least partially in a chemically unmodified form .

3. Powder mixture according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the average grain size of the nanoparticles is 1 nm or more, preferably 10 nm or more, more preferably 20 nm or more and/or less than 500 nm, preferably 100 nm or less, more preferably 75 nm or less, most preferably 40 nm or less, and/or wherein the maximum grain diameter is less than 500 nm.

4. Powder mixture according to any one of the preceding claims,

wherein the nanoparticles have a substantially spherical and/or a substantially angular and/or a substantially irregular shape , wherein preferable the nanoparticles have a substantially spherical shape .

5. Powder mixture according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the steel contains Fe and

max 0.10 wt% C,

2.00 - 3.00 wt% Mo,

10.00 - 15.00 wt% Ni, and

16.00 - 19.00 wt% Cr,

wherein preferably the steel further contains

max 0.030 wt% S,

max 0.045 wt% P,

max 0.16 wt% N,

max 0.50 wt% Cu,

max 1.00 wt% Si, and

max 2.00 wt% Mn .

6. Powder mixture according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the median grain size of the first material is 1 pm or more, preferably 5 pm or more, more preferably 10 pm or more, and/or 150 pm or less, preferably 75 pm or less.

7. Powder mixture according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the first material comprises substantially spheri cal steel particles.

8. Powder mixture according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the nanoparticles comprise at least one non- metallic material, wherein preferably the non-metallic material is one out of borides, carbides, nitrides, oxides, silicides, and carbon.

9. Powder mixture according to claim 8,

wherein the nanoparticles comprise titanium carbide, wherein preferably the nanoparticles are titanium carbide nanoparticles .

10. Powder mixture according to claim 8,

wherein the nanoparticles comprise tungsten carbide, wherein preferably the nanoparticles are tungsten carbide nanoparticles .

11. Powder mixture according to any one of the preceding claims ,

wherein the content of the nanoparticles is 0.05 wt% or more, preferably 0.1 wt% or more, more preferably 0.3 wt% or more, still more preferably 0.5 wt% or more, and/or

wherein the content of the nanoparticles is 40 wt% or less, more preferably 10 wt% or less, still more preferably 5 wt% or less .

12. Method for the production of a powder mixture according to any one of the preceding claims,

wherein the powder mixture is produced by mixing the first material and the second material in a predetermined mixing ra tio, and

wherein preferably the mixing is a dry mixing.

13. Method for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object from a powder mixture according to any of claims 1 to 11 by se lective layer-wise solidification of the powder mixture by means of an electromagnetic radiation and/or a particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer, the method preferably comprising the steps: applying a layer of the power mixture on the base plate or on the building platform or on a previously applied layer,

solidifying the powder mixture selectively at positions corresponding to a cross-section of the three-dimensional object in the layer, and

repeating the steps of applying and solidifying until the three-dimensional object is completed.

14. Three-dimensional object manufactured from a powder mixture according to any of claims 1 to 11 by selective layer-wise so lidification of the powder mixture by means of an electromagnet ic radiation and/or particle radiation at positions that corre spond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer.

15. Three-dimensional object according to claim 14,

wherein the nanoparticles embedded in a matrix of the three-dimensional object at least partially in a chemically unmodified form.

16. Three-dimensional object according to any of claims 14 or

15,

wherein the material of the three-dimensional object has a tensile strength of 490 MPa or more, preferably 750 MPa or more, more preferably 800 MPa or more, most preferably 1000 MPa or more, and/or

wherein the material of the three-dimensional object has a yield strength of 170 MPa or more, preferably 400 MPa or more, more preferably 800 MPa or more.

17. Three-dimensional object according to any of claims 14 to

16, wherein a reduction of a pin mass loss in wear testing of the three-dimensional object compared to a pin mass loss in wear testing of a three-dimensional object manufactured from the first material by selective layer-wise solidification of the first material by means of the electromagnetic and/or particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer is 25% or more, preferably 50% or more, more preferably 75% or more, and/or

wherein an increase of a disk mass loss in wear testing of the three-dimensional object compared to a disk mass loss in wear testing of a three-dimensional object manufactured from the first material by selective layer-wise solidification of the first material by means of the electromagnetic and/or particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer is 15% or more, preferably 50% or more, more preferably 70% or more.

18. Control unit for an apparatus for manufacturing a three- dimensional object layer by layer by applying and selectively solidifying a powder mixture according to any of claims 1 to 11 by means of an electromagnetic and/or particle radiation,

wherein the control unit is adapted to control that a predefined amount of energy is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture by means of the electromagnetic and/or parti cle radiation, and

wherein preferably an upper limit of the predefined amount of energy is selected such that the reinforcement material is not completely dissolved during the time in which the predefined amount of energy is applied to the defined volume of the powder mixture ,

wherein the upper limit of the predefined amount of energy is preferably defined such that the reinforcement material of the powder mixture is dissolved to 90 wt% or less, more prefera- bly 70 wt% or less, still more preferably 50 wt% or less, even more preferably 30 wt% or less, most preferably 5 wt% or less during the time in which the predefined amount of energy is ap plied to the defined volume of the powder mixture.

19. Method for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object from a powder mixture by selective layer-wise solidification of the powder mixture by means of an electromagnetic and/or a particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer,

wherein the powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material,

wherein the first material comprises a metal in powder form,

wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement mate rial,

wherein the powder mixture is selectively solidified by means of an electromagnetic and/or a particle radiation at posi tions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer forming a composite material, and

wherein 90 wt% or less, preferably 70% or less, more pref erably 50% or less, still more preferably 30% or less, even more preferably 5 wt% or less of the reinforcement material are dis solved in the metal.

Description:
POWDER MIXTURE FOR USE IN THE MANUFACTURE OF A THREE-DIMENSIONAL OBJECT BY MEANS OF AN ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING METHOD

The present invention relates to a powder mixture for use in the manufacture of a three-dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, a method for the production of the powder-mixture, methods for the manufacture of a three- dimensional object from the powder mixture by selective layer- wise solidification of the powder mixture, a three-dimensional object manufactured from the powder mixture by selective layer- wise solidification, and a control unit for an apparatus for manuf cturing a three-dimensional object layer by layer by ap plying and selectively solidifying the powder mixture.

Examples for additive manufacturing methods, which include also rapid prototyping methods and rapid tooling methods, are known under the names "selective laser sintering" and "selective laser melting". In these methods, a thin layer of building material in powder form is applied repeatedly, and the building material in each layer is selectively solidified at positions corresponding to a cross-section of a three-dimensional object by selective irradiation using a laser beam, i.e. the building material is molten or partially molten at these positions and then solidi fies .

A method for producing a three-dimensional object by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting as well as an appa ratus for carrying out this method are described, for example, in EP 1 762 122 A1. In the article by Dongdong Gu et al . in Applied Surface Science Vol . 255, pages 1880-1887 (published in 2008) the use of stain less steel for laser sintering is disclosed. The properties, es pecially the mechanical properties, of three-dimensional objects produced from stainless steel, however, are often unsatisfacto ry.

In order to improve the properties of three-dimensional objects, it is known in the art to produce three-dimensional objects from steel and reinforcement particles, for example carbide parti cles, by means of conventional sintering methods and casting methods. The reinforcement effect, however, is limited, for ex ample, due to the dissolution of the reinforcement particles in the molten iron during the processing time. This may in particu lar be the case if the reinforcement particles have a small size. A small particle size may lead to a rapid dissolution of the particles.

An object of the present invention is to provide a powder mix ture, the use of which makes improved additive manufacturing methods available, a method for the production of such a powder mixture, improved methods for the manufacture of a three- dimensional object making use of the powder mixture, an improved three-dimensional object manufactured from the powder mixture, for example a three-dimensional object with improved mechanical properties, and a control unit for an apparatus for manufacturing a three-dimensional object making use of the powder mixture.

The object is achieved by the powder mixture according to claim 1, the method for the production of a powder mixture according to claim 12, the methods for the manufacture of a three- dimensional object according to claims 13 and 20, the three- dimensional object according to claim 15, and the control unit according to claim 19. Refinements of the invention are specified in the dependent claims. Any feature set forth in the de pendent claims as well as any feature set forth in the descrip tion of exemplary embodiments of the invention below can be un derstood as a feature suitable for refining the powder mixture, the method for the production of a powder mixture, the methods for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object, the three- dimensional object, and the control unit.

A powder mixture is understood as a granular mixture of two or more components. The powder mixture according to the invention comprises a first and a second material. The second material comprises a reinforcement material. The powder mixture is for use in an additive manufacturing method. The so manufactured three-dimensional objects comprise composite materials. A composite material is a material with a matrix material in which a reinforcement material is embedded. Composite materials often have improved (mechanical) properties compared to the matrix ma terial and/or the reinforcement material.

The powder mixture according to the invention is a powder mix ture for use in the manufacture of a three-dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, wherein the powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material, wherein the first material comprises a steel in powder form, wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement material different from the first material, wherein the powder mixture is adapted to form a composite object when solidified by means of an elec tromagnetic and/or a particle radiation in the additive manufac turing method and wherein the reinforcement material comprises nanoparticles . Nanoparticles can be preferably understood as particles of any shape with dimensions below 500 nm, particularly in the rage up to 499 nm. Tubes and fibres with only two dimensions below 500 nm and one dimension exceeding 500 nm are also considered as na noparticles. In addition, it is preferably understood that the dimensions of nanoparticles are larger than about 1 nm.

Preferably, nanoparticles are particles having an average grain size between 1 x 10 ~9 m to 1 x 10 ~7 m and maximum grain size no greater than 5 x let 7 m. It is more preferable to use nanoparti cles having an average grain size of at least 10 nm and/or less than 100 nm; and it is particularly preferable to use nanoparti cles having an average grain size of at least 20 nm and/or less than 40 nm .

The dimensions of particles, in particular an average grain size and the maximum grain size of nanoparticles, can be determined using laser scattering or laser diffraction or alternatively us ing Scanning Electron Microscopic (SEM) or Transmission Electron Microscopic (TEM) image analysis. Using SEM or TEM image analysis, it is for instance possible to measure the average particle size on the basis of a microscopic image and to calculate a vol ume or particle average grain size.

The term "median grain size", also denoted as "d50-value", is understood as the particle diameter corresponding to the median of a particle volume distribution, i.e. as the value of the par ticle diameter value separating the lower-volume half and the higher-volume half of the distribution. The median grain size can be determined using laser scattering or laser diffraction or alternatively using Scanning Electron Microscopic (SEM) or

Transmission Electron Microscopic (TEM) image analysis. The first and/or the second material may comprise further mate rials .

Using the powder mixture according to the invention, for example improved additive manufacturing methods, especially additive manufacturing methods leading to three-dimensional objects com prising a composite material with improved properties compared to the pure matrix material, are provided.

Preferably, the nanoparticles are embedded in a matrix of the composite object at least partially in a chemically unmodified form. This means that at least a part of the reinforcement material being comprised by the second material does not undergo a change of its chemical composition prior to being embedded in the matrix.

Preferably, the first material and the nanoparticles are select ed such that the nanoparticles are properly wetted by liquid first material during the manufacture of the three-dimensional object, while the dissolution of the nanoparticles in the liquid first material and chemicals reaction of the nanoparticles with the first material are avoided. The resulting structure of the three-dimensional object may then be nearly fully dense (non- porous) and the nanoparticles have a good adhesion with the first material.

Preferably, the average grain size of the nanoparticles is 1 nm or more, preferably 10 nm or more, more preferably 20 nm or more .

Preferably, the average grain size of the nanoparticles is less than 500 nm, preferably 100 nm or less, more preferably 75 nm or less, most preferably 40 nm or less. Preferably, the nanoparticles have a substantially spherical or a substantially angular or a substantially irregular shape, wherein more preferably the nanoparticles have a substantially spherical shape, i.e. they have a high degree of roundness. It is possible that the reinforcement material comprises nanoparticles of different shape, e.g. a powder comprising substantially spherical as well as substantially angular nanoparticles.

As a measure of the roundness of particles, preferably their mean sphericity Y can be used. In the case of nanoparticles, Scanning Electron Microscopic (SEM) or Transmission Electron Microscopic (TEM) image analysis is preferably used to determine the mean sphericity Y. Generally, any SEM or TEM imaging setup that produces sufficient magnification and resolution images of the individual nanoparticles can be used for particle imaging. These images can then be analyzed using, for instance, OLYMPUS Stream Image Analysis Software (vl.9) to determine the mean sphericity value.

The steel preferably contains Fe and max 0.10 wt% C, 2.00 - 3.00 wt% Mo, 10.00 - 15.00 wt% Ni , and 16.00 - 19.00 wt% Cr; more preferably, it further contains max 0.030 wt% S, max

0.045 wt% P, max 0.16 wt% N, max 0.50 wt% Cu, max 1.00 wt% Si, and max 2.00 wt% Mn.

Preferably, the median grain size of the first material is 1 pm or more, more preferably 5 pm or more, still more preferably 10 pm or more, and/or 150 pm or less, more preferably 75 pm or less .

Preferably, the first material comprises substantially spherical steel particles. Preferably, the nanoparticles comprise at least one non-metallic material, wherein more preferably the non-metallic material is one out of borides, carbides, nitrides, oxides, silicides, and carbon .

Preferably, the nanoparticles comprise titanium carbide, wherein more preferably the nanoparticles are titanium carbide nanopar ticles ,

In another preferred embodiment, the nanoparticles comprise tungsten carbide, wherein more preferably the nanoparticles are tungsten carbide.

Preferably, the content of the nanoparticles in the powder mix ture is 0.05 wt% or more, preferably 0.1 wt% or more, more preferably 0.3 wt% or more, still more preferably 0.5 wt% or more.

Preferably, the content of the nanoparticles in the powder mixture is 40 wt% or less, preferably 10 wt% or less, more preferably 5 wt% or less, still more preferably 4 wt% or less. For example, if the nanoparticles comprise titanium carbide, the content of the nanoparticles is particularly preferably 40 wt% or less, even more preferably 10 wt% or less.

The method for the production of a powder mixture according to the invention is a method for the production of a powder mixture for use in the manufacture of a three-dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, wherein the powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material, where in the first material comprises a steel in powder form, wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement material different from the first material, wherein the powder mixture is adapted to form a composite object when solidified by means of an elec tromagnetic and/or a particle radiation in the additive manufac turing method, wherein the reinforcement material comprises na noparticles, and wherein the powder mixture is produced by mixing the first material and the second material in a predeter mined mixing ratio. Using this method, a powder mixture accord ing to the invention can be produced.

Preferably, the mixing is a dry mixing.

A method for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object ac cording to the invention is a method for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object from a powder mixture by selective lay er-wise solidification of the powder mixture by means of an electromagnetic radiation and/or a particle radiation at posi tions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer, wherein the powder mixture is a powder mixture for use in the manufacture of a three-dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, wherein the powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material, where in the first material comprises a steel in powder form, wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement material different from the first material, and wherein the powder mixture is adapted to form a composite object when solidified by means of an electromagnetic and/or a particle radiation in the additive manufacturing method, and wherein the reinforcement material comprises nanoparticles. Using this method, for example a three- dimensional object with improved material properties can be manufactured .

Preferably, the method for the manufacture of a three- dimensional object comprises the steps: applying a layer of the power mixture on the base plate or on the building platform or on a previously applied layer,

solidifying the powder mixture selectively at positions corresponding to a cross-section of the three-dimensional object in the layer, and

repeating the steps of applying and solidifying until the three-dimensional object is completed.

The three-dimensional object according to the invention is a three dimensional object manufactured from a powder mixture by selective layer-wise solidification of the powder mixture by means of an electromagnetic and/or particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer, wherein the powder mixture is a powder mixture for use in the manufacture of a three-dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, wherein the powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material, where in the first material comprises a steel in powder form, wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement material different from the first material, and wherein the powder mixture is adapted to form a composite object when solidified by means of electromagnetic and/or particle radiation in the additive manu facturing method, and wherein the reinforcement material com prises nanoparticles. The three-dimensional object has, for example, improved mechanical properties and/or improved corrosion properties and/or an improved balance between these properties compared to a three-dimensional object manufactured from the first material.

Preferably, the reinforcement material is embedded in a matrix of the composite object at least in a chemically unmodified form . Preferably, the material of the three-dimensional object has a tensile strength of 490 MPa (in conformity with the standard ASTM F138) or more, more preferably 750 MPa or more, still more preferably 800 MPa or more, most preferably 1000 MPa or more.

Preferably, the material of the three-dimensional object has a yield strength of 170 MPa or more, preferably 400 MPa or more, most preferably 800 MPa or more.

Preferably, a reduction of a pin mass loss in wear testing of the three-dimensional object compared to a pin mass loss in wear testing of a three-dimensional object manufactured from the first material by selective layer-wise solidification of the first material by means of the electromagnetic and/or particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer is 25% or more, preferably 50% or more, more preferably 75% or more.

Preferably, an increase of a disk mass loss in wear testing of the three-dimensional object compared to a disk mass loss in wear testing of a three-dimensional object manufactured from the first material by selective layer-wise solidification of the first material by means of the electromagnetic and/or particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a respective layer is 15% or more, preferably 50% or more, more preferably 70% or more.

The control unit according to the invention is a control unit for an apparatus for manuf cturing a three-dimensional object layer by layer by applying and selectively solidifying a powder mixture, wherein the powder mixture is a powder mixture for use in the manufacture of a three-dimensional object by means of an additive manufacturing method, wherein the powder mixture com- prises a first material and a second material, wherein the first material comprises a steel in powder form, wherein the second material comprises a reinforcement material different from the first material, wherein the powder mixture is adapted to form a composite object when solidified by means of an electromagnetic and/or a particle radiation in the additive manufacturing meth od, wherein the reinforcement material comprises nanoparticles, and wherein the control unit is adapted to control that a prede fined amount of energy is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture by means of the electromagnetic and/or particle radiation. This, for example, provides a control unit for an apparatus for manufacturing a three-dimensional object with im proved material properties .

Preferably, an upper limit of the predefined amount of energy is selected such that the nanoparticles are not completely dissolved during the time in which the predefined amount of energy is applied to the defined volume of the powder mixture.

Preferably, the upper limit of the predefined amount of energy is defined such that the nanoparticles are dissolved to 90 wt% or less, more preferably 70 wt% or less, still more preferably 50 wt% or less, even more preferably 30 wt% or less, most pref erably 5 wt% or less during the time in which the predefined amount of energy is applied to the defined volume of the powder mixture .

A method for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object ac cording to an embodiment of the invention is a method for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object from a powder mixture by selective layer-wise solidification of the powder mixture by means of an electromagnetic and/or a particle radiation at posi tions that correspond to a cross-section of the object in a re- spective layer, wherein the powder mixture comprises a first ma terial and a second material, wherein the first material com prises a metal in powder form, wherein the second material com prises a reinforcement material, wherein the powder mixture is selectively solidified by means of an electromagnetic and/or a particle radiation at positions that correspond to a cross- section of the object in a respective layer forming a composite material, wherein the reinforcement material comprises nanopar ticles, and wherein 90 wt% or less, preferably 70 wt% or less, more preferably 50 wt% or less, still more preferably 30 wt% or less, even more preferably 5 wt% or less of the nanoparticles are dissolved in the metal. Using this method, for example a three-dimensional object with improved material properties can be manufactured.

Other features and expediencies of the invention may be found in the description of exemplary embodiments with the aid of the appended drawings .

Fig. 1 is a schematic view, partially represented in section, of an apparatus for the layer-wise manufacture of a three-dimensional object according to an embodiment of the present invention.

Fig. 2 shows a FE-SEM image of the first material used to pro duce a powder mixture according to an embodiment of the invention .

Fig. 3 shows a FE-SEM image of the titanium carbide nanoparti cles used to produce a powder mixture according to this embodiment . Fig. 4 shows the measured density and the calculated theoreti cal density for three examples according to this embod iment of the invention. Results obtained with 316L steel powder are shown for comparison.

Fig. 5 shows a SEM image of the structure of a three- dimensional object manufactured from the powder mixture according to an example of this embodiment of the in vention .

Fig. 6 shows a SEM image of the structure of a three- dimensional object manufactured from steel powder with out reinforcement material is shown for comparison.

Fig. 7 shows the measured tensile and yield strength as well as the measured elongation after fracture for three ex amples of the embodiment from Fig. 2. Results obtained with 316L steel powder are shown for comparison.

Fig. 8 shows the measured tensile and yield strength as well as the measured impact energy for these examples. Re sults obtained with 316L steel powder are shown for comparison.

Fig. 9 shows the pin mass loss and the disk mass loss measured for these examples. Results obtained with 316L steel powder are shown for comparison.

Fig. 10 shows the measured hardness for these three examples.

Results obtained with 316L steel powder are shown for comparison. Fig. 11 shows a cyclic potentiodynamic polarization test curve for one of these examples.

Fig. 12 shows a cyclic potentiodynamic polarization test curve for a three-dimensional object manufactured from steel powder without reinforcement material is shown for com parison .

The apparatus represented in Fig. 1 is a laser sintering or laser melting apparatus 1 for the manufacture of a three- dimensional object 2.

The apparatus 1 contains a process chamber 3 having a chamber wall 4. A container 5 being open at the top and having a container wall 6 is arranged in the process chamber 3. The opening at the top of the container 5 defines a working plane 7. The portion of the working plane 7 lying within the opening of the container 5, which can be used for building up the object 2, is referred to as building area 8. Arranged in the container 5, there is a support 10, which can be moved in a vertical direction V, and on which a base plate 11 which closes the container 5 toward the bottom and therefore forms the base of the contain er 5 is attached. The base plate 11 may be a plate which is formed separately from the support 10 and is fastened on the support 10, or may be formed so as to be integral with the sup port 10. A building platform 12 on which the object 2 is built may also be attached to the base plate 11. However, the object 2 may also be built on the base plate 11, which then itself serves as the building platform.

In Fig. 1, the object 2 to be manufactured is shown in an inter mediate state. It consists of a plurality of solidified layers and is surrounded by building material 13 which remains unsolid- ified.

The apparatus 1 furthermore contains a storage container 14 for building material 15 in powder form, which can be solidified by electromagnetic radiation, for example a laser, and/or particle radiation, for example an electron beam. The apparatus 1 also comprises a recoater 16, which is movable in a horizontal direc tion H, for applying layers of building material 15 within the building area 8. Optionally, a radiation heater 17 for heating the applied building material 15, e.g. an infrared heater, may be arranged in the process chamber.

The apparatus 1 furthermore contains an irradiation device 20 having a laser 21, which generates a laser beam 22 that is deflected by means of a deflecting device 23 and focused onto the working plane 7 by means of a focusing device 24 via an entrance window 25, which is arranged at the top side of the process chamber 3 in the chamber wall 4.

The apparatus 1 furthermore contains a control unit 29, by means of which the individual component parts of the apparatus 1 are controlled in a coordinated manner for carrying out a method for the manufacture of a three-dimensional object. The control unit 29 may contain a CPU, the operation of which is controlled by a computer program (software) .

During operation of the apparatus 1, the following steps are re peatedly carried out: For each layer, the support 10 is lowered by a height which preferably corresponds to the desired thickness of the layer of the building material 15. The recoater 16 is moved to the storage container 14, from which it receives an amount of building material 15 that is sufficient for the appli- cation of at least one layer. The recoater 16 is then moved over the building area 8 and applies a thin layer of the building material 15 in powder form on the base plate 11 or on the building platform 12 or on a previously applied layer. The layer is ap plied at least across the cross-section of the object 2, prefer ably across the entire building area 8. Optionally, the building material 15 is heated to an operation temperature by means of at least one radiation heater 17. The cross-section of the object 2 to be manufactured is then scanned by the laser beam 22 in order to selectively solidify this area of the applied layer. These steps are carried out until the object 2 is completed. The object 2 can then be removed from the container 5.

According to the invention, a powder mixture is used as building material 15. The powder mixture comprises a first material and a second material. According to the embodiments described below, the first material comprises a steel in powder form. The second material comprises a reinforcement material with nanoparticles.

According to the embodiments described below, the powder mixture is processed by the direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) method.

In the selective laser sintering or selective laser melting method small portions of a whole volume of powder required for manufacturing an object are heated up simultaneously to a tem perature which allows a sintering and/or melting of these portions. This way of manufacturing an object can typically be characterized as a continuous and/or - on a micro-level - fre quently gradual process, whereby the object is acquired through a multitude of heating cycles of small powder volumes. Solidifi cation of these small powder portions is carried through selectively, i. e. at selected positions of a powder reservoir, which positions correspond to portions of an object to be manufac- tured. As in selective laser sintering or selective laser melt ing the process of solidification is usually carried through layer by layer the solidified powder in each layer is identical with a cross-section of the object that is to be built. Due to the small volume or mass of powder which is solidified in a given time span, e. g. 1 mm 3 per second or less, and due to conditions in a process chamber of such additive manufacturing ma chines, which can favour a rapid cool-down below a critical tem perature, the material normally solidifies quickly after heat ing.

In conventional sintering and casting methods one and the same portion of building material is heated up to a required tempera ture at the same time. A whole portion of material required to generate an object is cast into a mould in a liquid form. This volume of building material is therefore held above a temperature level required for melting or sintering for a much longer time compared to the selective laser sintering or selective la ser melting method. Large volumes of hot material lead to a low cooling rate and a slow solidification process of the building material after heating.

In other words, selective laser sintering or selective laser melting methods can be differentiated from conventional sinter ing and casting methods by processing of smaller volumes of building material, faster heat cycles and less need for heating up build material with high tolerances for avoiding a premature solidification of the material. These can be counted among the reasons why the amount of energy introduced into the building material for reaching the required temperatures can be con trolled more accurately in selective laser sintering or selective laser melting methods. These conditions allow for setting an upper limit of energy input into the powder portions to be processed, which determines a temperature generated in the powder portions, more precisely, that is lower and closer to the melting point of the respective material than in conventional sintering or casting methods. This advantage makes it possible to minimize common problems of conventional sintering and cast ing methods. One such phenomenon is dissolution of reinforcement material in a steel melt during manufacturing, especially if a resulting composite material is thermodynamically unstable and if the reinforcement material comprises nanoparticles. The selective laser sintering or selective laser melting method allows for reducing dissolution by lowering the heating temperatures, for example generated by a laser and/or electron beam, in de fined areas of the powder bed and for raising a cooling rate af ter heating. Thus, the reinforcing quality of the reinforcement material, i.e. its ability to change (mechanical) properties of an object in a favourable manner, can become much more apparent, especially if the reinforcement material comprises nanoparti cles. The phrase "mechanical properties of an object" is under stood in this context as properties which derive from material properties of the object and not from a specific shape and/or geometry of the object. Mechanical properties of the object can be tensile strength or yield strength, for example. An object generated from a powder mixture according to the invention may show a change of various mechanical properties. The inventive method of manufacturing a three-dimensional object provides considerable advantages by improving selected mechanical properties compared to an object manufactured without reinforcement materi al .

A comparatively short exposure of the building material or the formed composite material to high temperatures leads to a mini mization of the dissolution of the reinforcement material in the first material. Furthermore chemical reactions of the reinforce- ment material with the first material are minimized. This is important as the reaction products are generally brittle. If the layer of the reaction product is thick, a considerable weakening of the material can occur. In the case of stainless steel, the reactions can also lead to a depletion of free chromium in the structure surrounding the reinforcement particles and a loss of corrosion resistance in these areas. Furthermore, the reactions can lead to an increased porosity.

A further phenomenon observed in connection with conventional casting techniques is agglomeration of the particles of the re inforcement material in the molten steel, especially if the re inforcement material comprises nanoparticles, which in general have the tendency to agglomerate with one another.

In a specific embodiment of the invention, the first material is a 316L grade steel according to the SAE steel grade system

(hereinafter referred to as "316L"). This steel contains Fe and up to 0.03 weight percent (wt%) carbon, up to 0.10 wt% nitrogen, up to 0.50 wt% copper, up to 0.75 wt% silicon, up to 2.00 wt% manganese, between 2.25 and 3.00 wt% molybdenum, between 13.00 and 15.00 wt% nickel, and between 17.00 and 19.00 wt% chromium.

The steel is used as a powder with substantially spherically shaped powder particles, which means that at least most of the powder particles have a high sphericity.

The steel particles can have a regularly rounded shape and/or a smooth surface but they can also have areas with a rough surface and other deviations. The powder has a median grain size (d50- value) between 33 and 40 pm. The material is, e.g., obtainable from EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems under the tradename "EOS StainlessSteel 316L". According to this embodiment, the second material is nanopartic ulate powder of titanium carbide (TiC) , i.e, a powder of titani um carbide nanoparticles. The average grain size of the titanium carbide powder particles lies in the range of <40 nm, as defined by the manufacturer and as may be confirmed for instance by SEM image analysis. It can be obtained from e.g. IoLiTec Ionic Liquids Technologies GmbH under the product name NC- 0011 -HP. The titanium carbide powder particles have a substantially spherical shape, i.e. a substantially spherical particle morphology. Pref erably, they are not elongated particles.

The titanium carbide nanoparticles contain low amounts of impu rities (<1 wt% in total), such as oxygen and free carbon.

In Fig. 2, a FE-SEM image of the 316L powder is shown. The image shows that the particles of the 316L powder have a substantially spherical shape.

In Fig. 3, a FE-SEM image of the titanium carbide nanoparticles is shown. The image shows that the nanoparticles have a substan tially spherical shape.

FE-SEM imaging has been done using Zeiss ULTRAplus FE-SEM system equipped with two separate secondary electron (SE) detectors and a back scattered electron (BSE) detector. A small amount of each sample has been spread evenly on a piece of electrically conduc tive carbon tape and mounted to a sample holder. Images have been captured with 500X magnification (316L) or 50 000X magnifi cation (titanium carbide nanoparticles) using the SE imaging mode and 15.00 kV acceleration voltage of the electron beam (for both 316L and titanium carbide nanoparticles) . Alternatively, a steel of a different type can be used as first material, for example a maraging steel, for example

X3NiCoMoTil8-9-5 (classification according to DIN EN 10027-1) , which is, e.g., obtainable from EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems under the tradename "EOS MaragingSteel MSI".

Alternatively, the second material can comprise nanoparticles with substantially irregularly shaped nanoparticles, e.g, with elongated particles having an aspect ratio up to 2000:1.

Alternatively, the nanoparticles can be nanoparticles of a mate rial different from titanium carbide.

It is generally preferred that the nanoparticles have a higher melting point than the steel of the first material. If the powder mixture according to the invention is heated to a tempera ture where the steel powder melts, it can be possible that the nanoparticles remain solid if the temperature is held below the melting point of the nanoparticles. A composite object manufac tured by this method can thus gain particularly favourable prop erties, for example mechanical properties.

In other embodiments, tungsten carbide, silicon carbide, other carbides, borides, nitrides, oxides, silicides, carbon, and oth er non-metallic materials with high melting points, especially ceramics, can be selected as reinforcement materials.

According to this embodiment, the powder mixture is produced by mixing the 316L powder and the titanium carbide nanoparticles using a dry mixing process with a uniaxial rotating mixer. The powder components are weighed and sealed in a cylindrical glass jar. The jar is rotated with a rotational speed of 15 rpm for 16 hours. The selected rotational speed allows the powder to flow to the opposite end of the partially filled jar during each rev olution in order to ensure that the titanium carbide becomes dispersed in the steel powder. The selected mixing time ensures that the titanium carbide becomes dispersed in the steel powder. Using this mixing method a homogenous powder mixture is obtained. This means that the titanium carbide particles may be distributed evenly in the 316L particles so that substantially the same mixing ratio (number of particles and/or weight per cent) can be measured in any portion of powder mixture of a cer tain volume and/or weight.

The powder mixture according to this embodiment is used as building material for manufacturing three-dimensional objects by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting using the EOS M100 DMLS-system having a Yb fibre laser as laser sintering or laser melting apparatus 1.

The manufactured three-dimensional objects consist of a compo site material made up of a matrix being at least predominantly a steel matrix with titanium carbide nanoparticles as reinforcement material .

The process parameters of the selective laser sintering or se lective laser melting process are preferably selected such that the amount of energy that is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture by an electromagnetic radiation (for example a laser) and/or a particle radiation (for example an electron beam) is equal to or below a predefined upper limit. The upper limit is predefined such that it is ensured that the reinforce ment material is not completely dissolved in the melt of the first material during the time in which the electromagnetic radiation and/or particle radiation heats the defined volume. The power of a laser or electron beam, for example, as a main deter- mining factor of the heat generated in a powder portion can be controlled by means of a control unit as part of the additive manufacturing machine. The control unit can be connected to a database, wherein correlations between process parameters are stored, and concrete values, for example a power input for the laser or electron beam, are generated based on predefined param eters or thresholds . These values can be fed into the control unit which generates control signals for adjusting a power of a laser or electron beam as part of the additive manufacturing machine correspondingly. The control unit can also work based on sensor data of an active process monitoring system which detects if a heating and/or solidifying process runs within specified operational parameters.

Reinforcement material is said to be dissolved if its structural elements detach from the particles of the reinforcement material and spread in the first material, regardless of whether a chemi cal reaction of the reinforcement material and the first materi al takes place. The amount of the reinforcement material that is dissolved is preferably 90 wt% or less, more preferably 70 wt% or less, still more preferably 50 wt% or less, even more preferably 30 wt% or less, and most preferably 5 wt% or less. The control unit 29 of the laser sintering or melting apparatus 1 can be adapted to control the apparatus 1 such that the amount of energy that is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture by means of electromagnetic radiation and/or particle radiation is equal to or below the upper limit.

The process parameters of the selective laser sintering or se lective laser melting process are preferably selected such that the amount of energy that is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture by means of electromagnetic radiation and/or particle radiation is equal to or above a predefined lower lim- it. The lower limit is predefined such that it is ensured that the first material is completely molten during the time in which the electromagnetic radiation and/or the particle radiation in troduces energy into the defined volume of the powder mixture, whereby the energy input can be controlled by a control unit which can work depending on data provided by a database and/or by an active process monitoring system. The control unit 29 of the laser sintering or melting apparatus 1 can be adapted to control the apparatus 1 such that the amount of energy that is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture by means of the electromagnetic radiation and/or the particle radiation is equal to or above the lower limit.

Partial dissolution of the nanoparticles in the melt of the first material or reaction of the nanoparticles with the first material can also be beneficial as it can improve the bonding between the nanoparticles and the steel, which may in turn improve the load transfer from the first material to the nanopar ticles. Without load transfer, the nanoparticles would contribute to the strength properties of the material in a lesser amount. Dissolution of the nanoparticles in the melt of the first material/reaction of the nanoparticles with the first ma terial is typically the problem with conventional sintering and casting methods. Therefore, it can be necessary to find a com promise between bond strength and dissolution of the nanoparticles in the melt of the first material/reaction of the nanopar ticles with the first material. In this instance, the lower lim it for the amount of energy that is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture can be selected such that it is ensured that the nanoparticles partially dissolved in the melt of the first material during the time in which the electromagnetic radiation and/or the particle radiation introduces energy into the defined volume, wherein the amount of the nanoparticles that is dissolved is preferably 1 wt% or more, more preferably 3 wt% or more .

The process parameters which can be changed in order to control the amount of energy that is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture are, for example, laser spot size, laser beam profile, laser output power (radiant energy that can, for exam ple, be transmitted through an optical system before it is actually used in the process) , thickness of a powder layer, distance between individual scanning lines of, for example, a laser or electron beam, and scanning speed of, for example, a laser or electron beam over the predefined areas to be solidified. One has to take account of the possible interdependence of some of these parameters. For example, for a given laser beam profile, for instance a Gaussian beam profile, and a given beam diameter, the hatch distance can lie between an upper limit and a lower limit in order to ensure that the energy input into the building material is sufficient at all positions to be solidified without overheating the building material and without leaving a sinter ing or melting process incomplete.

Also increased porosity caused by the reinforcement material such as nanoparticles may be a reason for unsuccessful strength ening using conventional sintering and casting methods. This problem can be avoided using selective laser sintering or selec tive laser melting methods.

The process parameters of the selective laser sintering or selective laser melting process are preferably selected such that the heat input factor Q and the spot size of the laser lie with in certain preselected ranges in order to ensure that the first material is sufficiently molten and to avoid a complete dissolution of the nanoparticles in the first material. The heat input factor should lie within these ranges independently of other parameters, for example a spot size of the laser on the powder bed, which may vary according to different angles under which a laser beam reaches different positions in the building area 8 in which single powder portions are to be solidified. The heat in put factor is an approximate measure of the amount of energy that is introduced into a defined volume of the powder mixture by means of the laser beam. More specifically, the heat input factor is a measure of the amount of energy introduced per vol ume of the powder mixture. It is, for example, measured in units of J/mm 3 . The heat input factor Q is calculated based on the la ser output power P, the hatch distance d, the hatch speed v, and the layer thickness s according to the formula

Q = P / (d * v * s)

It has been found out that a heat input factor lying between 30 and 150 J/mm 3 and a spot size of the laser lying between 35 and 120 pm lead to three-dimensional objects having favourable properties, for example favourable mechanical properties.

The following values have been found out to be very favourable process parameters in cases where titanium carbide nanoparti cles are used as reinforcement material: P = 105 W, d = 0.07 mm, v = 830 mm/s , s = 0.02 mm. These values correspond to Q = 90.4 J/mm 3 . These parameters have been used for the manufacture of three-dimensional objects using the mixtures with 0.75 wt%, 1.5 wt%, or 3.0 wt% Tie nanoparticles to be described below.

The three-dimensional objects manufactured by means of the meth od according to the embodiment of the invention described above are characterized with respect to various properties. The meth ods used for the characterization are described below. 1. Densities are determined utilizing the Archimedes' principle according to standard ISO 3369: "Impermeable sintered metal materials and hard metals - Determination of density" for three- dimensional objects manufactured as density cube samples by se lective laser sintering or selective laser melting are used for density testing. In this density testing method, the mass of a sample is determined both in air and as immersed in water, and the measured mass difference between the two measurements is then used for the estimation of the sample volume based on the known density of water. From the measured weight and volume of the sample, its density can then be calculated. For the tests, all sides of the density cube samples are ground manually with Struers SiC #320 abrasive paper using Struers Labo-Pol-5 sample preparation system in order to reduce the surface roughness and thereby the possibility of test result deterioration due to trapped air bubbles on the sample surfaces. Ion-exchanged water is used for the weighing in water immersion, and a small amount of dish washing liquid is added to the water in order to lower its surface tension. The procedure is performed with a laboratory scale (Kern PLT 650-3M) using an inbuilt density calculation program. For the automated calculation, the water temperature is measured before the tests. The measurements are repeated three times for each sample switching the sample between each measurement, and before each new measurement the samples are dried thoroughly. The results presented below are the averaged values of the three measurements .

Due to the significantly lower density of titanium carbide in comparison to the selected first material (i.e. 316L) , some ex tent of density decrease can be expected to be related to the increasing titanium carbide content of the samples. In order to evaluate the effect of titanium carbide addition on the struc- tural integrity of the materials, this direct density reduction effect is calculated and the theoretical composite material densities are compared to the measured density values. The calcula tions are based on the theoretical density of solid titanium carbide (4.93 g/cm 3 ) and the measured density of a sample manu factured from 316L without reinforcement material (7.99 g/cm 3 ) . These densities are used for estimating the volume fraction of titanium carbide in the materials. Then, based on these theoret ical volume fractions and the stated densities of the solid ma terial constituents, the theoretical densities of the solid com posite materials are calculated. The described procedure can be expressed by the equations

TiC volume fraction = TiC wt% / Tie density / (TiC wt% / TiC density + 316L wt% / 316L density)

316L volume fraction = 316L wt% / 316 L density / (TiC wt% / TiC density + 316L wt% / 316L density) composite density = TiC volume fraction * TiC density + 316L volume fraction * 316L density

The relative density is defined as the ratio of the measured density and the theoretical density.

It is clear from the equations, that these theoretical composite densities are based on the assumption that the titanium carbide particles do not add any empty volume to the composite material structure, and that the same level of defects that was present in the original 316L sample would be present also in the compo site materials . 2. Tensile testing is carried out according to standard ISO 6892 - 1 : 2009 : B10 "Metallic materials - Tensile testing - Part 1: Method of test at room temperature". Three-dimensional objects manufactured as tensile test pieces (samples) by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting are used for tensile testing. The cross-section diameter of each sample is reduced with a turning lathe so that it reaches its smallest value, approximately 4.0 mm, in the middle of the samples. This diameter is verified with a micrometer. The ends of the samples are threaded for fastening. The testing is done with Zwick/Roell Z40Q-test machine (Zwick Roell Group) . The tensile force is increased by 10 MPa/s during the elastic phase of the material behaviour, and the increase is reduced to 0.375 MPa/s at the beginning of the plastic deformation phase. During the tests, the maximum load, offset yield strength (R p0.2 - limit ) , tensile strength, and elon gation of the samples at fracture are recorded, and the reduc tion of the cross-section area at the point of fracture is then measured with a slide. Impact testing has been performed

according to standard EN ISO 148-1:2010 "Metallic materials - Charpy pendulum impact test - Part 1: Test method".

3. Resistance to abrasive wear is tested by the ball-on-disk - method according to the standard ASTM G99 - 95a "Standard Test Method for Wear Testing with a Pin-on-Disk Apparatus" . In this method, a pin specimen with a spherical head is pressed perpen dicularly against a horizontally rotating disk of a pre-defined material and surface finish. The pin sliding speed and sliding distance, as well as the normal force between the contacting surfaces are also to be defined in the testing setup. The tests are performed at room temperature. After the tests, the material analysis is performed based on the mass or volume loss of the pin and disk specimens, contact surface characterization and the frictional force data recorded during the tests using CETR UMT-2 triboraeter .

The tests are performed using disk specimens made of maraging steel powder EOS MaragingSteel MSI manufactured by selective la ser sintering or selective laser melting using the EOS M290 DMLS-system having a Yb fibre laser and default process parame ters provided by the manufacturer of the EOS M290 DMLS-system. The test surfaces of the disk specimens are ground manually with Struers SiC #80 and #320 abrasive papers in the respective order by Struers LaboPol-5 sample preparation system. The surface roughness values of the samples are measured with a surface roughness tester (Mitutoyo Surftest SJ-210) , and the measurements are repeated four times from different positions of each disk. The measured roughness values are typically in the order of 1 pm in the present case.

For the tests, three-dimensional objects are manufactured as pin specimens by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting. No additional surface treatment is done. The following pa rameters have been chosen for the tests: Normal force = 40.0 N, sliding speed = 0,25 m/s , sliding distance = 450.0 m, test time = 30.0 min. Due to the slight unevenness of the disk sample surfaces, the normal force value may thereby fluctuate by approximately 5.0 N from the pre-set value during each disk revolution. This extent of normal force fluctuation is typical for the de scribed test setup and cannot be significantly reduced. Also the temperature of the test specimen holder is monitored, and slight increase of the temperature may be recorded during the course of the tests. This increase can be considered to be too insignifi cant to have any considerable effect on the test results. Before each test, the pin and disk specimens are cleaned by rinsing them in ethanol, scouring with paper and blowing with pressur- ized air, and after this they are weighed with a laboratory scale (Precisa Gravimetrics XT 1220M, Precisa Gravimetrics AG) . After the tests, the samples are carefully detached from the test machine, and the contact surfaces are observed visually and documented. The wear debris is then carefully removed from the samples by the same procedure as described above. The samples are then weighed again and the mass changes are calculated from the results .

4. In the case of this embodiment, hardness testing has been done with Struers Duravision 20 hardness testing machine. The test procedures follows the standards ISO 6507-1:2005 "Metallic materials — Vickers hardness test —Part 1: Test method" and ISO 6508-1:2015 "Metallic materials — Rockwell hardness test — Part 1: Test method". The hardness has been measured by Rockwell and Vickers methods. The results are presented in HRC and HV10 hardness units and the values are reported with the accuracy of 0.1 HRC and 1 HV10 respectively. The hardness has been measured 5 times for each sample using both methods. The test samples have been ground with Struers LaboPol-5 grinding and polishing machine using Struers SiC #80 and #320 abrasive papers before testing .

In the Vickers method a pyramid shaped diamond indenter with a 136° angle between opposite faces is forced into the surface of the sample and the diagonal length of the indentation in the surface is measured after removing the test force. In HV10 the used test force is 98,07N. Hardness Vickers value can be determined from the following formula where F is the test force and d is the average of the two diagonal length ,

In the Rockwell method using the C scale diamond cone, an in- denter is forced into the tested material. First a specified preliminary force is applied and the initial indentation depth is measured. After this an additional force is applied and re moved, and the final indentation depth is measured. The Rockwell hardness value is then derived from the following equation:

. T h

Rockwell Hardness = JN - ,

s where h is the difference between the final and initial

indentation depths and N and s are constants. The standard states that this method is applicable for values between 20 and 70 HRC .

5. Corrosion resistance of three-dimensional objects manufac tured as samples by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting is tested with an immersion test according to the stand ard NACE TMQ169/G31 - 12a "Standard Guide for Laboratory Immer sion Corrosion Testing of Metals". The test period is set to 30 days, after which the test results are evaluated by visual inspection and sample mass change measurement. All sample sur faces are first ground manually with Struers SiC #80 and #320 abrasive papers using Struers LaboPol-5 sample preparation sys tem. The samples are then let to oxidize in the room atmosphere for 24 hours in order to simulate the probable real-life operat ing conditions of the test materials. The samples are then cleaned first by scouring them with paper and ethanol and then by rinsing in an ultrasonic bath (Retsch UR1, Retsch GmbH) for 5 minutes, using ion-exchanged water. The sample dimensions are then measured with a slide caliper (ABSOLUTE AOS Digimatic Cali per 500-123U, Mitutoyo UK Ltd) in order to determine their sur face areas, and they are weighed with a laboratory scale (Kern PLT 650 -3M) . The tests are performed in a standard sea water en vironment, in which the electrolyte is a mixture of ion- exchanged water and 3.56 wt% reagent-grade sodium chloride

(NaCl, Baker Analyzed, J.T. Baker) . The solution is prepared by measuring 900g of the water and 33.22g NaCl separately with a laboratory scale (Kern PLT 650-3M) and combining them in plastic test containers. The dissolution of NaCl is agitated by rotating the containers manually for 30 seconds. The containers are made of high-density polyethylene (PE-HD) and have a volume of 1000 ml. The samples are attached to the lid of the containers with polymer strings so that they are positioned roughly in the mid dle of the containers in vertical direction. The samples are not allowed to come in contact with the container walls during the tests. The tests are carried out at room temperature (20-25°C) and ambient pressure. After 30 days the samples are rinsed and cleaned following a two-step procedure. In the first step, they are rinsed in ion-exchanged water and blow dried, and in the second step they are brushed under ion-exchanged water with an electric tooth brush and then rinsed in an ultrasonic bath for three minutes. The samples are weighed three times after each cleaning step with a laboratory scale (Kern PLT 650-3M) .

In addition, the corrosion behaviour was examined by cyclic po- tentiodynamic polarization measurement using a three electrode cell system and salt water electrolyte (3.56% NaCl standard so lution) according to standard ASTM G 61-86 "Standard Test Method for Conducting Cyclic Potentiodynamic Polarization Measurement for Localized Corrosion Susceptibility or Iron-, Nickel-, or Co balt-Based Alloys". Three specific examples of the powder mixture according to this embodiment of the invention described above were used. The powder mixtures according to these examples contain 0.75 wt%,

1.50 wt%, and 3.0 wt% of the titanium carbide nanoparticles.

Three-dimensional objects were manufactured by the method de scribed above using the powder mixtures according to the exam ples .

For comparison experiments, three-dimensional objects are manu factured from 316L without reinforcement material using the same method that is used for manufacturing three-dimensional objects using the powder mixtures according to the examples.

The shapes of the three-dimensional objects are selected such that they are suitable for the respective test method.

In Fig. 4 the measured density and the calculated theoretical density are shown. The numerical values are presented in Table 1. The results represent the averaged values of three measurements with for each example and for 316L.

Table 1

The selected parameters of the laser sintering or laser melting process and the selected first and second materials have result- ed in high relative density values of the manufactured composite material objects. Relative density values of more than 99.0% have been measured for all material compositions.

The structure of the manufactured three-dimensional objects has been found to be free or at least essentially free from cracks and other structural defects. Structural characterization has been performed using optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) .

In Fig. 5, a SEM image showing the structure of a three- dimensional object manufactured from the powder mixture according to the example with a Tie content of 1.50 wt% is shown. No structural defects, such as pores or cracks, are visible. There may be some Tic nanoparticle agglomerates which can be seen within the structure, which may have not been fully dispersed within the first material during the powder mixing process. In Fig. 6, a SEM image showing the structure of a three-dimensional object manufactured from the 316L powder without reinforcement material is shown for comparison. The images shown in Figures 5 and 6 has been captured with the Zeiss ULTRAplus FE-SEM system described above an acceleration voltage of 15.0 kV, the SE imag ing mode, and 100X magnification.

Tensile strength and yield strength as well as elongation after fracture and impact energy are shown for the three examples according to this embodiment, in which TiC nanoparticles are used, and, for comparison, for a three-dimensional object manufactured from 316L in Figures 7 and 8 (The data for tensile strength and yield strength are shown in both Figures) . The results represent the averaged values of three measurements for each example and for 316L. The numerical values are represented in Table 2. Table 2

As a result of Tic nanoparticle addition (composite formation) a considerable increase of tensile strength and yield strength of the 316L steel has been found. Also increased wear strength and hardness properties have been measured in this invention in comparison to the unreinforced EOS 316L steel, see below.

As is visible from Figures 7 and 8, the displayed properties respond rather linearly to the TiC nanoparticle concentration: Yield strength and tensile strength both increase while the elongation after fracture and the impact energy both decrease with increasing nanoparticle concentration.

This means that the selective laser sintering or selective laser melting of a powder mixture of 316L and titanium carbide nano- particles leads to an effective material strengthening of the manufactured three-dimensional object compared to a three- dimensional object manufactured by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting of 316L powder without reinforcement material. Comparably advantageous results have not been obtained using conventional sintering methods. This can be attributed to the rapid heat cycles characteristics of the selective laser sintering or selective melting process and the small amount of retained porosity. In Fig. 9 the pin mass loss and the disk mass loss measured by wear testing are shown for the three examples according to this embodiment, in which Tie nanoparticles are used, and, for com parison, for a three-dimensional object manufactured from 316L. The results represent the averaged values of three measurements with for each example and for 316L. The numerical values are represented in Table 3.

Table 3

A significantly reduced pin mass in the case of the powder mixtures of the examples compared to the 316L reference shows that the selective laser sintering or selective laser melting of a powder mixture of 316L and titanium carbide nanoparticles leads to an increase of the wear resistance of the manufactured three- dimensional object compared to a three-dimensional object manu factured by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting of 316L powder without reinforcement material. The decrease of the measured pin mass loss values has an approximately linear correlation with the concentration of TiC nanoparticles.

Likewise, the disk mass loss is significantly increased in the case of the powder mixtures of the examples compared to the 316L reference. This means that the abrasivity is increased by the use of TiC nanoparticles. In Fig. 10 the hardness values measured for the three examples of the embodiment and, for comparison, for a three-dimensional object manufactured from 316L are shown. The numerical values are represented in Table 4.

Table 4

The increase of the measured hardness values has an almost line ar correlation with the concentration of the nanoparticles. This means that the selective laser sintering or selective laser melting of a powder mixture of 316L and titanium carbide nano particles leads to a material hardening of the manufactured three-dimensional object compared to a three-dimensional object manufactured by selective laser sintering or selective laser melting of 316L powder without reinforcement material.

No visible or measurable corrosion was seen for any of the exam ples after immersion in salt water for 30 days. This indicates that the selective laser sintering or selective laser melting of a powder mixture of 316L and titanium carbide nanoparticles leads to a material having a high corrosion resistance.

In Fig. II, the curve obtained by the potentiodynamic polariza tion test for a three-dimensional object manufactured using a powder mixture according to the example with 3.0 wt% titanium carbide nanoparticles is shown. In Fig. 12, the curve obtained by the potentiodynamic polarization test for a three-dimensional object manufactured using 316L without reinforcement materials is shown for comparison.

The curves shown in Figures 11 and 12 have a very similar shape. This indicates that the passive region of the curves (vertical part) yields over the same electric potential range, which fur ther indicates that the corrosion resistance properties in the used salt water electrolyte solution are very similar to one an other. It is reasonable to assume that similar results can be achieved with the other Tic nanoparticle concentrations chosen for this invention.

While the present invention has been · described by means of selective laser sintering or selective laser melting, respectively, the present invention is not limited to selective laser sin tering or selective laser melting. The present invention may be applied to any possible methods for producing a three- dimensional object by applying in layers and selectively solidi fying a building material in powder form by means of electromag netic and/or particle radiation. The irradiation device may con tain one or more lasers. The lasers may be gas lasers, solid- state lasers or lasers of any other kind, e.g. laser diodes, es pecially arrays having VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser) or VECSEL (Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting La ser) , or any combination thereof. In general, any irradiation device by means of which energy may be selectively applied onto a layer of the building material and suitable for solidifying the building material may be used. This may be a light source different from a laser, an electron beam, or any other suitable energy source or radiation source. The invention may also be ap plied to selective mask sintering, in which a mask and an ex- panded light source are used instead of a deflected laser beam, or to absorption sintering or inhibition sintering.