Equispheres, a materials science company based in Ottawa, Canada, in collaboration with McGill University, Montreal, Canada, has announced that after extensive testing, Equispheres’ aluminium alloy powders are suitable for sintering following binder jet Additive Manufacturing.
According to the company, until now, binder jet AM technology was unable to produce sinterable aluminium alloy parts. This was largely due to aluminium’s oxide layer, resulting in rapid oxidation. Equispheres states that the powder it has developed will make sintering of aluminium alloy parts viable due to its thinner oxide layer and smoother surface. The specific findings of its testing include: compaction-free, sub-solidus sintering of the company’s standard AlSi10Mg aluminium alloy powder, good densification (> 95%) and excellent microstructure.
Equispheres is reportedly working with McGill University, as well as other key partners, on the development of specialised binder agents for aluminium and specific automotive applications. The company is optimistic that the process and powder will offer a new high standard for many critical parts as the process is refined and testing continues.
“The unique and tailored attributes of Equispheres’ powder have proven exceptional in compaction free sintering,” stated Dr Mathieu Brochu, Associate Professor at McGill and Canada Research Chair in Pulse Processing of Nanostructured Materials. “We are excited to begin work with Equispheres’ Binder Jet printing partners in the next phase to fully understand all aspects related to sintering of complex shape components and the fundamental relations with new specialised binder agents.”
Kevin Nicholds, Equispheres’ CEO, commented, “We are excited about the industry response to our unique aluminium sintering results. Although Binder Jet printer technology offers the speed and cost reductions necessary to enable Additive Manufacturing to meet the requirements of automotive mass production, the inability to print with aluminium alloys has been a major limitation to the technology – until now.”