Materials

Optomec introduces aluminum 3D printing capability for directed energy deposition

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Aluminum and its alloys are hot materials for metal PBF AM technologies though not as much for DED processes. Optomec is changing that by adding aluminum alloys to its Directed Energy Deposition (DED) systems for both part production and repair. This innovation can be used to deposit any aluminum alloy, including those recently developed specifically for improved properties with AM processing.

Aluminum alloy block deposited with LENS DED (left). Note the very smooth surface finish. Optical micrograph of polished and unetched sample from the same block (right). Note the low fraction of gas porosity (circles) measured at ~0.1% using image analysis with gray scale thresholding.

This development for the Optomec DED process opens the transportation and aerospace industries to AM and repair of complex aluminum alloy parts using powder-based DED. Additionally, the use of Optomec’s LENS simultaneous 5-axis system enables the processing of aluminum alloy parts with complex geometries without the need for support structures. Deposition of aluminum alloys in a controlled atmosphere glove-box with very low levels of oxygen and moisture ensures achievement of components with superior mechanical properties.

“Our engineers have developed process parameters for aluminum alloys to provide an excellent surface finish, high deposition rates and a density of ~99.9%,” said David Otazu, LENS Applications Engineer. “With this advancement, Optomec LENS systems can successfully process all common materials used for AM including steels, titanium, nickel, copper, and now, aluminum.”

 

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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