To complete any job, you need the right tools, and to build anything, you need the right materials. For some things, the right materials are special metal alloys with high strength and ductility. Researchers at the University of Rostock, as reported by Elseview, have recently found a way to increase both the strength and ductility and alloys by rapidly cooling them.
Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS) is a technique for producing alloys with special properties. By applying mechanical pressure and an electrical current to fine powders, SPS is able to form dense solid materials with specific grain sizes, which in turn affects the materials' properties. What the researchers have discovered is that by rapidly cooling the alloys with nitrogen, instead of letting them cool naturally or with argon gas, the material comes out stronger, harder, and more ductile.
When used to produce Grade 5 Titanium, the so-called workhouse of the titanium industry, the researchers' alloy was 12% hard and roughly 34% more ductile, compared to the same alloy after naturally cooling. Fortunately for the industry, the researchers were working with a modified form of a currently available SPS system, so adoption in the industry may not be too expensive.