Interest in additive manufacturing (AM) has dramatically expanded in the last several years, owing to the paradigm shift that the process provides over conventional manufacturing. Although the vast majority of recent work in AM has focused on three-dimensional printing in polymers, AM techniques for fabricating metal alloys have been available for more than a decade. Here, laser deposition (LD) is used to fabricate multifunctional metal alloys that have a strategically graded composition to alter their mechanical and physical properties. Using the technique in combination with rotational deposition enables fabrication of compositional gradients radially from the center of a sample. A roadmap for developing gradient alloys is presented that uses multi-component phase diagrams as maps for composition selection so as to avoid unwanted phases. Practical applications for the new technology are demonstrated in low-coefficient of thermal expansion radially graded metal inserts for carbon-fiber spacecraft panels.
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