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Whereas 3D printing of thermoplastics is highly advanced and can readily create complex geometries, 3D printing of metals is still challenging and limited. The origin of this asymmetry in technological maturity is the continuous softening of thermoplastics with temperature into a readily formable state, which is absent in conventional metals. Unlike conventional metals, bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) demonstrate a supercooled liquid region and continuous softening upon heating, analogous to thermoplastics. Here we demonstrate that, in extension of this analogy, BMGs are also amenable to extrusion-based 3D printing through fused filament fabrication (FFF). When utilizing the BMGs’ supercooled liquid behavior, 3D printing can be realized under similar conditions to those in thermoplastics. Fully dense and amorphous BMG parts are 3D printed in ambient environmental conditions resulting in high-strength metal parts. Due to the similarity between FFF of thermoplastics and BMGs, this method may leverage the technology infrastructure built by the thermoplastic FFF community to rapidly realize and proliferate accessible and practical printing of metals.
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Gibson, Michael A.; Mykulowycz, Nicholas M.; Shim, Joseph; Fontana, Richard; Schmitt, Peter; Roberts, Andrew; Ketkaew, Jittisa; Shao, Ling; Chen, Wen; Bordeenithikasem, Punnathat; Myerberg, Jonah S.; Fulop, Ric; Verminski, Matthew D.; Sachs, Emanuel M.; Chiang, Yet-Ming; Schuh, Christopher A.; Hart, A. John; and Schroers, Jan, "3D printing metals like thermoplastics: Fused filament fabrication of metallic glasses" (2018). Materials Today. 618.