Fortune Magazine informs, the aluminum giant Alcoa has invested 60 million dollars in the creation of a new production center, which will specialize in the development of 3D-printing technology of aluminum parts and assemblies for the aerospace and automotive industries.
The new division will develop modern methods of 3D-print parts and assemblies made of aluminum alloys. This center will promote the technology for the manufacture of large-sized products, as well as to create new materials - aluminum alloys, that will be better suited for 3D-printing.
funding will demonstrate the importance of the innovative direction of the aluminum industry – 3D-printing parts and products made of aluminum alloys.
What is it: 3D printing aluminum?
3D-printing technology metals, including, aluminum - more technically called Direct Metal Laser Sintering. This technology creates a metal, including, aluminum, parts and products - prototypes (prototypes) and industrial batches. The essence of this technology lies in the fact, that used in its laser selectively fuses the layers fine metal powder in accordance with the 3D-drawing items, made with AutoCAD software, Solidworks or a special program under the 3D-printing – program Autodesk 3ds Max.
For other materials,, for example, plastics and ceramics - 3D-printing is performed by other methods, for example, stereolithography, blasted, extruded.
What does 3D printing give to the aluminum industry?
Traditional methods of manufacturing parts are at a distance "excess" of metal from the workpiece to impart a predetermined geometrical shape. These types of methods generally used metal machining - often in the form of processing by CNC machines, as milling, boring, planing, etc.. The essence of metal 3D printing technology is the opposite: metal little by little, layers added to the parts. Therefore, the technology 3D-printing of metal parts has significantly more capacity to the complexity of their configuration. Moreover, This technology is able to produce not only the details, products, which consist of several parts.
The thickness of each layer of powder is from 5 to 30 micrometers, Dispersible powders - to 5 micrometers.
A machine for 3d-printing of metal
Diagram of a typical machine for 3D-printing of metal
Technology of 3d-printing of aluminum parts
Step 1 - aluminum powder feed.
The feed piston moves upward by the thickness of one layer and delivers the powder to the roller.
Step 2 - Addition of the next powder layer.
The roller moves the powder to the desktop.
Step 3 - Sintering.
The laser sinters the aluminum powder
precisely within the cross section details,
which corresponds to this layer.
Step 4 - Lowering with the workpiece platform.
Platform sintered aluminum powder
is lowered by the thickness of one layer.
Step 5 - Creating layers.
The process is repeated, until all the item layer by layer
It will not be created by laser sintered aluminum powder
Step 6 - Extract of finished aluminum parts.
Platform with desktop and rises
releases the finished item for its extraction.
Why print aluminum parts?
The main advantage of technology 3D-printing of metal parts - the technology of direct laser sintering - is its ability to produce parts, which can not be made by conventional techniques. With this technology it is possible to produce parts of complex geometry, long and narrow channels and mesh metal structures. Moreover, by laser sintering technology may be manufactured assembly units of several parts.
Powder aluminum alloys for 3D-printing
Currently, the report, that for the manufacture of aluminum components by 3D-printing is used mainly AlSi10Mg alloy and AlSi10Mg0,5, and Alloy AlSi9Cu3. AlSi10Mg alloy is an aluminum alloy casting, which are usually made of castings of complex geometry with thin walls and for the aerospace and automotive industries, including, engine parts and housings of various units.
The dimensions of the aluminum parts for 3D-printing
As of 2015 manufacturers of aluminum parts and 3D-printed products limit the dimensional parameters of these parts to the following conditions.
The maximum dimensions of the aluminum parts
Machines for direct laser sintering of metals - 3D-printing of aluminum parts most often come in the following main limiting dimensions of the working platform:
- 100 x 100x75 mm,
- 140 x 140x100 mm,
- 250 x 250x300 mm,
- 400 x 400x360 mm,
- 500 x 500x500 mm.
The minimum dimensions of aluminum parts
The minimum dimensions are determined by the condition: the sum of the length, width and height of items should be at least 30 mm.
The minimum thickness of the aluminum parts for 3D-printing should not exceed 1,0 mm. Normal thickness is 1,6 mm.