Scientists use 3D printing to recreate Damascus steel manufacturing process

Engineers at the Max Planck Institute of Science and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have developed new ways to reproduce the Damascus steel manufacturing process using 3D printing technology. It was originally made of steel made from Oz ingots, imported from India more than 2000 years ago and manufactured or traded in Damascus. But now, it has been used to refer to a class of steel with curved, wavy, flowing, light and dark streaks.

Scientists use 3D printing to recreate Damascus steel manufacturing process

A close-up of a 13th-century Persian-forged steel sword in Damascus (Photo: Wikipedia)

Because of the break-up of Uz steel, the real Damascus steel has long been a lost art, and has been highly anticipated by many scientists and craftsmen working on reverse engineering.

But the basic idea behind this steel has been accepted by people since then. If you visit modern Renaissance exhibitions, it is likely that many of the unexpected reproductions will be found in the saber’s stalls.

It is reported that the Damascus steel blades are made by strapping iron bars and roasting them to the heat, then twisting them together. Blacksmiths will beat and reheat it constantly, creating intricate ripple patterns.

This process allows the performance of the regulator to be controlled by controlling the carbon content. For example, choose firm, tough steel for the sword core, and then weld to another processed hard and grinding tip of the edge of the steel leaf.

Today’s Damascus steel is usually made of two different grades of steel alloy. But researchers in Dusseldorf and Aachen are trying to bring Damascus steel into the new century through 3D printing and laser technology.

It is worth mentioning that instead of using two different materials to process the formation of new alloys, this new technology uses only iron, nickel and titanium alloy powders.

Scientists use 3D printing to recreate Damascus steel manufacturing process

Lasers are used to alter the crystallization characteristics of 3D-printed steel layers (from Max Planck Institute)

By melting the laser and importing layer by layer, the desired shape can be formed. The final product is then rendered by removing the excess powder.

Although still part of the category of 3D metal printing, the difference in the new technology is that lasers are used to alter the crystal structure of metals to form alternating layers of hard and easily extendable steel.

Philipp K?rnsteiner, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute, says:

We have successfully modified the microstructure of the layers specifically during 3D printing to give the final component the desired performance without the need for subsequent hard-treatment of the steel.


Specific to the laser process, mainly related to time parameters. Each layer is added to cool the metal to less than 195 degrees C (383 degrees F), leaving behind a soft layer of steel that combines strength and ductility.

By changing the energy of the laser, the speed of the 3D metal printing process, and other factors, the team points out, the properties of the metal can be controlled with considerable precision.