ExOne Announces Aluminum 6061 Has Achieved Its Customer-Qualified Status in Collaboration With Global Automaker
- Aluminum is a strong, lightweight material that can help to lower the weight of products
ExOnebinder jet 3D printers can now 3D print 23 materials, including 12 single-alloy metals
- Titanium is now fast-tracked for qualification in partnership with a global medical device firm
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This 6061 aluminum engine block model demonstrates the high resolution and geometric control that can be produced in a new patent-pending binder jet 3D printing and sintering process developed by
A new patent-pending process to binder jet 3D print and sinter the material delivers rapid and repeatable results: 99% density and material properties comparable to die casting. Additional collaborative and individual patents are expected to be filed by Ford and
“There has been skepticism for years that binder jet 3D printing and sintering of aluminum was even possible,” said
Third-Party Qualified: The material has passed rigorous
ExOnetests over multiple builds and has verified material property data from an independent third party. These materials meet MPIF, AMS, or other material standards.
Customer-Qualified: These materials have been qualified by
ExOnecustomers with their own standards and are being successfully printed today for their own applications. However, they have not yet earned ExOne’s highest level of qualification for general market readiness. ExOneroutinely partners with manufacturers to develop materials for specific applications.
R&D Materials: These materials have been deemed printable by
ExOneand our customers after preliminary analysis. R&D work for these materials is ongoing and involves engineering work with the materials, as well as our printers and processes, to ensure successful printing.
Additional Information About Aluminum Binder Jetting
Shaping aluminum alloys into lightweight designs with today’s manufacturing technologies can be a challenge whether using traditional or additive 3D manufacturing technologies. Generally speaking, the higher the strength of aluminum alloy, the more challenging and expensive it is to shape into parts.
3D printing has long been viewed as a potential pathway to simplify manufacturing of the material, but engineers have struggled for more than a decade to deliver a commercially viable method of sintering the material when using binder jetting – the fastest method of 3D printing and the most desirable for high volume output. Laser-based methods of 3D printing can deliver aluminum but those processes are regarded as too slow for volume production.
Binder jetting is a 3D printing process that uses a digital file to quickly inkjet a binder into a bed of powder particles — metal, sand or ceramic — creating a solid part one layer at a time. When printing metals, the final part must be sintered in order to fuse the particles together into a solid object.
ExOne’s qualification of aluminum in collaboration with Ford is the result of a new patent-pending process for binder jet 3D printing and sintering. The achievement is highlighted even further by the fact it is being accomplished without excessive levels of liquid-phase sintering that leads to melting and distortion; this would prohibit many of the capabilities that bring manufactures to 3D printing in the first place, such as unique geometries.