3D Systems newest alloys change the game
Could open new auto, aero, molds, and energy sector uses Metal Tech News - September 8, 2021
Last updated 9/8/2021 at 2:21pm
3D Systems recently announced it has added two new alloys to its material portfolio specifically designed to yield high-strength, corrosion-resistant parts when used with its proprietary Direct Metal Printing platform.
Based out of South Carolina, 3D Systems has been providing additive manufacturing solutions for over 20 years. Engineering, manufacturing and selling 3D printers, materials, scanners, and services, 3D Systems originally pioneered one of the earliest forms of 3D printing by patenting stereolithography in 1986.
These two latest alloys – designed alongside APWORKS and BÖHLER Edelstahl – certified specifically for use with 3D Systems' machines, could open new automotive, aerospace, mold making, and energy sector applications to their respective users.
The first, collaborated with APWORKS, was designed for 3D printing weight-efficient, load-bearing components. Dubbed Scalmalloy, this durable aluminum possesses a tensile strength of 520 megapascals and yield strength of 480 MPa; for comparison, a mild steel, AISI 1020, has a tensile strength of 420 MPa and yield of 350 MPa.
"Scalmalloy has a very attractive strength-to-weight ratio and is more amenable to 3D printing than many conventional high-strength aluminum alloys," said Michael Shepard, vice president of 3D Systems' Aerospace & Defense Segment. "These performance attributes make it ideal for aerospace applications, and we are excited to see how our customers will continue to push the envelope with their innovation."
As for its second alloy, M789 alloy or BÖHLER M789 AMPO, 3D Systems has qualified the material as optimized for creating ultra-high-strength molds and tooling. Moreover, the metal is free from cobalt and can be further toughened, allowing it to reach a Rockwell Hardness Rating of 52 HRC (Hardness Rockwell C).
For reference, a good everyday pocketknife is about 57-59 HRC, higher than 59 HRC, and you are entering into premium-grade steel.
"Having M789 as part of our metal 3D printing solution delivers greater accuracy to our automotive customers," said Kevin Baughey, head of 3D Systems' transportation and motorsports segment. "This enables them to use the technology for applications that require higher fidelity and thinner walls, like die inserts with conformal cooling and tire tread molds."
While both alloys should expect to find their uses, Scalmalloy has quickly taken center stage.
With 3D metal printing becoming increasingly popular among automotive manufacturers, the latest alloy has already been approved for use with Formula 1. Wasting no time, the Alfa Romeo Racing team has already 3D printed 304 parts for its 2021 racecar, making 36% of it being manufactured from Scalmalloy.
Furthermore, the United Kingdom's Digital Manufacturing Centre has become an approved Scalmalloy 3D printed parts supplier. Additionally, working alongside APWORKS, it is reported that the DMC has been producing parts of such a high standard that it has lifted the organization into the top 1% of Scalmalloy part suppliers worldwide.
As the capabilities of 3D printing continue to grow into the realm of heavy and mass-production scale manufacturing, industries like the automotive sector have begun to scramble to find ways to shave down costs while ultimately increasing production all-around.
From Bugatti brake calipers to Fiat Chrysler suspension parts, tougher and cheaper alloys that can be printed in previously impossible shapes are opening the doors for new designs, creating an unprecedented potential since the advent of the motorized carriage all those years ago.