Tech Update


Cryogenic Processing of Printed Stainless-Steel Parts Earns 300 Below U.S. Air Force Recognition

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

300 Below, Inc., Decatur, IL, has been named a top-10 finalist at the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Rapid Sustainment Office's (AFRSO's) Advanced Manufacturing Olympics' material hurdles technical challenge, for developing its cryogenic-treatment process to improve aircraft shelters and other military-base materials. 300 Below’s entry was selected for its potential to improve the strength and durability of building structures, imparting better structural resiliency for joints, weldment areas and other weak points in building materials while simultaneously reducing corrosion and improving wear resistance. Specifically, the 300 Below efforts focused on improving aluminum alloys used in 3D-printed metal parts. In prior testing, additive manufacturing using Type 316 stainless steel, arguably the most utilized stainless steel by the USAF, yielded a 30-percent improvement in micro-Vickers hardness post-cryogenic treatment, along with a 35-percent increase in residual compressive stress, plus a 17-percent decrease in coefficient of friction, which indicates a significant improvement abrasive-wear resistance.

The USAF Advanced Manufacturing Olympics is centered around five technical challenges, including reengineering of legacy parts, 3D-printed part re-creation, material hurdles (advanced manufacturing techniques to improve aluminum and polymer materials), part certification and approval sprints, and supply-chain management.  The AFWERX Challenge is centered around six topics: Base Security, Installation Resilience, Leveraging Technology for Operational Effectiveness, Reverse Engineering, Culture of Innovation, and Airman and Family Wellbeing.

300 Below's cryogenic treatment technology uses a liquid-nitrogen-based process to slowly release vapors into a computer-controlled treatment chamber, which permanently and irreversibly rearranges the molecular structure of metal to be more uniform and evenly distributed, thus promoting longer life and stability while reducing maintenance expenses, part failure and metal deterioration caused by corrosion.


See also: 300 Below, Inc.

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