A team from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) is using technologies from Equispheres, Inc, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and Xact Metal, State College, Pennsylvania, USA, to bring aluminium Additive Manufacturing to its facility. The ideal combination of powder and machine supplier is said to demonstrate that metal AM can be accessible to SMEs, academia and research facilities.
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Using Equispheres’ NExP-1 AM powder, with its reputedly safer storage and handling characteristics, researchers at SDU have successfully additively manufactured aluminium parts using Xact Metal’s XM200G Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) Additive Manufacturing machine.
“Barriers to the expansion of metal AM are falling,” stated Evan Butler-Jones, VP – Product & Strategy for Equispheres. “This project illustrates that there are options that make Additive Manufacturing available to producers wherever, whenever it makes sense for a particular application.”
The SDU team came up with the concept and design for this project several years ago, but it wasn’t until Equispheres introduced its NExP-1 AM powder in 2022 that the group felt confident to proceed. Unlike most aluminium powders, Equispheres’ NExP-1 is characterised as non-explosible and non-combustible, offering a less hazardous option for production Additive Manufacturing. This enabled SDU to begin working with aluminium for Additive Manufacturing.
“This project was our first attempt at printing reactive powders,” added Andrei-Alexandru Popa, Additive Manufacturing Lead and Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Denmark. “The safer handling characteristics of Equispheres’ NExP-1 powder made us feel more comfortable using aluminium powder in a university lab setting.”
“After much preparation and support from our friends at Xact Metal and Equispheres, we stepped into uncharted territory – 3D printing NExP-1 aluminum on an XM200G printer. We are the first to try this combination of hardware and feedstock, and I’m thrilled that our success will add another bit of knowledge to the Additive Manufacturing universe,” he concluded.
“We aim to empower the next generation by making the capabilities of powder-bed fusion 3D printing available to companies of all sizes,” explained Juan Mario Gomez, CEO of Xact Metal. “Equispheres shares similar goals to foster the enablement of AM by overcoming current barriers, and we are glad to see the success of Equisphere’s unique material on the Xact Metal XM200G at SDU.”
SDU’s Andrei-Alexandru Popa told the story of this successful combination of technologies at Formnext 2023 on the Technology Stage. During the presentation sponsored by Xact Metal and Equispheres, attendees learned how the university leveraged accessible AM equipment and non-explosible aluminium powder to build aluminium AM capabilities at their facilities and better support their industry partners.
“The positive results experienced by Andrei-Alexandru and the team at SDU are consistent with what we’ve seen with industrial, multi-laser printers using NExP-1,” added Butler-Jones. “NExP-1 retains the best characterisitics of a high-performance AlSi10Mg aluminium powder – faster print speeds and consistent mechanical properties – plus it makes equipment clean-up quicker and easier.”
Xact Metal and Equispheres are both exhibiting at Formnext, Xact Metal at 12, D98, and Equispheres, 11, B31.