AMS Spring 2023

Reindeer 3D Printed from Aluminum ‘Santa’ Superalloy for Christmas

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Author Washington Irving once wrote about St. Nicholas “riding over the tops of the trees, in that self-same wagon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children.”

But any mention of the flying reindeer we’re all so familiar with as his transportation was lacking.

AM aluminum Reindeer on ornament

It’s thought that the first written account of reindeer hauling Santa around the globe on his annual trip came in 1821 with the publication of a 16-page booklet entitled, “A New Year’s Present, to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve Number III : The Children’s Friend.”

AM aluminum ReindeerIt set down the legend for good thusly:

“Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night.
O’er chimneytops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.”

And so, reindeer became the aerospace vehicle of choice for Santa.

Some advanced materials experts at the University of Birmingham thought they’d update the legend with an aluminum, 3D laser printed reindeer, and it’s mighty cool.

Made with direct laser metal sintering, the body of this aluminum reindeer is constructed using a mesh-like structure like that used for applications in medical implants and structural aerospace parts.

Built by the University of Birmingham’s School of Metallurgy and Materials, this model of one of ‘eight tiny reindeer’ is only lacking a little aerodynamic fine-tuning and a GE propellant system to make Santa the happiest space explorer in history.

“The joy of Christmas brought to you by 3D printing, where in the future Santa could be printing your Christmas presents,” says Dr Moataz Attallah, one of the engineers who worked on Project Space Reindeer.

Santa in spaceAMPLab at U of Birmingham investigates advanced materials processing techniques for additive manufacturing, powder processing, and solid-state joining and on microstructure-property development in advanced materials.

Their work is done with ferrous alloys, titanium alloys, nickel superalloys, aluminum alloys, and, it appears, the Santa Superalloy from which this reindeer was wrought.

The reindeer was made in the Advanced Materials and Processing Lab at the University of Birmingham by 3D Printing Christmas Elves Dr. Hany Hassanin, Dr. Nick Adkins, and Dr. Luke Carter.

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