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NanoSteel Launches 3D Printable Tool Steel

An industrial die set that was printed using laser powder bed fusion with NanoSteel BLDRmetal L-40 tool steel
An industrial die set that was printed using laser powder bed fusion with NanoSteel's BLDRmetalTM L-40 tool steel (Photo: Business Wire)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – NanoSteel®, a company that designs nanostructured steel materials, recently launched its first product for the laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing process. BLDRmetalTM L-40 is a case-hardening steel powder that provides high hardness and ductility: Its case hardness exceeds 70 HRC, and its core elongation tops10 percent. It also prints easily on standard commercial equipment. The alloy is reported to provide performance superior to that of M300 maraging steel and is an alternative to difficult-to-print tool steels, such as H13.

BLDRmetal L-40 is said to expand the potential use of 3D printing in a wide variety of hard materials markets, and is designed to be used for tools, dies, bearings, and gears, among others.

The capabilities of BLDRmetal L-40 were demonstrated by printing an 8-inch roll thread die set, which outperformed dies machined from D2 and M2 tool steels.

"We tried nearly every combination of material and conventional CNC machining process to create our dual-thread die sets, none of which could cut or grind the complicated dual-thread geometry," said Mark Doll, president and CEO of Perfect Lock Bolt America Inc., a manufacturer of dual-thread fasteners that are resistant to self-loosening, in a press release. "The NanoSteel solution delivers exactly what we are looking for, including excellent surface finish, flexibility, as well as strength and hardness for maximum die life. This is a welcomed technological innovation to the fastener industry. We have been pleased with our testing and are slated to start production this year."

NanoSteel ( developed this high hardness alloy through rapid iterative development at CFK GmbH, a 3D printing service provider whose expertise was instrumental in developing the die from concept to finished part. "For us, the most important attributes of NanoSteel's BLDRmetalTM L-40 are that it is easily implemented and creates crack-free high hardness components, which sets it apart from the many other tool steels we have tested," stated Dr.-Ing. Christoph Over, CEO at CFK, in the release. "We are proud to be a preferred printing service provider for NanoSteel, which will allow us to continue to offer the most valuable products to our customers."

"Launching BLDRmetalTM L-40 after successfully producing the roll thread dies ensures the commercial viability of the new alloy for customers investigating the use of additive manufacturing," added Harald Lemke, vice president and general manager of NanoSteel Engineered Powders, in the release. "We don't stop at material design, but create joint solutions with our customers, facilitating the process from material selection and prototyping to fully qualified production parts."

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