Desktop Metal, Inc, Burlington, Massachusetts, USA, has qualified the use of titanium alloy Ti6Al4V for its Studio System 2™ metal Additive Manufacturing system; a Material Extrusion (MEX) machine which is aimed at low-volume, pre-production and end-use applications. The company will begin shipping Ti6Al4V next month and believes that it is the first and only company to make the material commercially available for MEX-based metal AM technologies.
Ti6Al4V is the most widely used titanium alloy due to its high tensile strength, corrosion resistance and biocompatibility. With a high strength-to-weight ratio, Ti6Al4V is considered an ideal material for high-performance production applications in industries such as aerospace and defence, automotive, and oil and gas. In addition, its biocompatibility makes it particularly desirable in medical applications, such as for surgical devices and implants.
“Titanium has been a challenging material for bound metal 3D printing because it is both extremely reactive in powder form and difficult to sinter,” stated Jonah Myerberg, co-founder and CTO of Desktop Metal. “We are excited to be the first to commercialise the most common titanium alloy, Ti64, for 3D printing through our Studio System 2 solution, opening the door to more accessible production of high-performance titanium parts.”
The Studio System 2, which was launched earlier this year, is reported to produce Ti64 with exceptional mechanical properties. Tensile properties include 730 MPa yield strength, 845 MPa ultimate tensile strength, and 17% elongation. These mechanical properties exceed those set by ASTM F2885-17 standards for metal injection moulded (MIM) surgical implant applications.
Desktop Metal shared the following key use cases for Ti6Al4V parts additively manufactured by the Studio System 2:
A machine bracket was recently designed using a gyroid lattice infill and titanium in place of 17-4PH stainless steel to reduce weight and material, while maintaining the required functional strength and stiffness. The resulting geometry would be impossible to produce using conventional manufacturing processes due to its complexity. Additively manufacturing this new design on the Studio System 2 in Ti6Al4V reduced the part weight by 59%.
Telescope focus ring
Small telescope focus rings hold lenses in place on a mobile telescope, which has multiple motors that are used to position and focus the lenses. Additively manufacturing the rings in titanium ensures that all components are lightweight, allowing the use of smaller motors and reducing wear on the components and the overall cost of the assembly.
Typically, this part is produced in low volumes, which would require investment in expensive tooling or custom fixturing if using conventional manufacturing processes. The Studio System 2 supports the production of up to six focus rings in less than twenty-four hours, which would be ready for installation in a matter of days.
A drone coupling is used to fasten two assemblies together on a drone frame. One of the main challenges in drone manufacture is battery life, which is predominantly determined by the weight of the drone. Producing the coupling in titanium enabled significant weight reduction while maintaining the structural integrity required for the drone frame.
The Studio System 2 will enable low-volume production of this part in quantities of 15–25 per week before moving it into mass production, without any tooling or machining being necessary.
Fuel injector nozzle
Fuel injector nozzles are critical for safe and reliable operations in the aerospace industry, where they are responsible for injecting fuel into a burner for propulsion. This part features internal channels that can result in enhanced burner performance, but that would be impossible to create using conventional manufacturing processes.
Titanium is an essential material for this application, as the nozzle needs to be able to withstand extreme temperatures and pressures while remaining lightweight. Using the Studio System 2 makes it possible for engineers to test many design variations of the nozzle in days, with as many as four versions of the nozzle additively manufactured in less than twenty-four hours.
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Privateer Space, a new satellite company focused on monitoring and cleaning up objects in space, commented, “3D printing with titanium is incredibly valuable in industries like aerospace because of the material’s ability to support complex and lightweight designs.”
“With the Studio System 2, the team at Privateer Space will be able to achieve the affordability and lightweighting capabilities needed to pave the way for our satellite design and launch,” he continued. “This technology is truly a differentiator in helping companies to accelerate innovations in space and, through the material advancements that Desktop Metal is making, we have an amazing opportunity to collaborate and keep space accessible for future generations.”