Novel aluminium AM wire feedstock significantly reduces heat treatment time

January 25, 2023

High-strength and corrosion-resistant, the aluminium wire is suitable for shipbuilding and aviation (Courtesy AML3D)
High-strength and corrosion-resistant, the aluminium wire is suitable for shipbuilding and aviation (Courtesy AML3D)

The Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), Melbourne, Australia, and AML3D Limited, Edinburgh, Australia, along with Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), Victoria, Australia, have developed a novel high-strength aluminium wire feedstock. This feedstock is suitable metal Additive Manufacturing and welding applications, that significantly reduces the post-manufacturing heat treatment stage.

The new wire feedstock is the result of a research project begun in 2021, born from AML3D’s need for a high-strength aluminium wire for Additive Manufacturing that required minimal or no heat treatment post-manufacture.

“Our patented Wire Additive Manufacturing (WAM) [a form of wire-based Directed Energy Deposition] 3D metal printing process can produce medium to large objects. However, the aluminium alloys we currently use require up to 24 hours of heat treatment to reach optimum strength, which can be costly and creates some logistical challenges,” stated Andy Sales, Executive Director and Chief Technical Officer, ALM3D. “Through our partnership with IFM and IMCRC, we’ve developed a cost-effective, high-strength aluminium alloy wire that requires just thirty minutes of heat treatment once printed. When used with our WAM technology, this wire has the potential to create additional applications across industries like shipbuilding and aviation further disrupting traditional manufacturing processes.”

Thomas Dorin, the Senior Research Fellow at IFM, added, “We were pleased to work with AML3D and IMCRC on this ambitious project, which encompassed over twenty different compositions and iterations. Our chosen alloy, a mixture of aluminium, magnesium and scandium, has recently been patented, and we’ve also commenced commercial production.”

The next phase involves demonstrating the potential for the new wire to reduce waste and streamline logistics (Courtesy AML3D)
The next phase involves demonstrating the potential for the new wire to reduce waste and streamline logistics (Courtesy AML3D)

The next phase of the project will involve additively manufacturing products to demonstrate the wire’s potential applications. ”We’ll then work with AML3D to show shipbuilders how they can print directly at the shipyard, which is an effective way to reduce material waste and streamline logistics,” Dorin continued.

IMCRC’s CEO and Managing Director David Chuter added, “We’re pleased the project outcomes have solved a real-world challenge for AML3D and the 3D printing industry more broadly. By creating an alternative to traditional processes like subtractive manufacturing, AML3D has the potential to catalyse a step-change for industry and encourage the adoption of more innovative manufacturing techniques.”

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