SLM Solutions, Lübeck, Germany, and Honeywell, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States, have reported an important initial success in their development collaboration for the qualification of aluminium parts additively manufactured with high layer thicknesses.
The partners have developed new parameter sets for aluminium alloy F357, a new beryllium free version of AlSi7Mg0.6 (A357), said to result in considerably improved material properties compared to parts produced through die-casting.
The development collaboration between Honeywell and SLM Solutions, announced in 2019, aims to reduce manufacturing times and costs to enable the metal Additive Manufacturing of components that meet the high requirements of the aerospace industry.
As part of the collaboration, Honeywell began qualification efforts for aluminium builds using an increased layer thickness of 60 and 90 µm on its quad-laser SLM®500 Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) Additive Manufacturing machine. SLM Solutions provided generic aluminium parameter sets for Honeywell to complete material qualification to achieve optimal material properties.
Dr Sören Wiener, Senior Director Technology and Advanced Operations at Honeywell Aerospace, commented, “In particular, the open architecture system of the SLM machine provides huge advantages like high flexibility and parameter sets can be customised. With this open access strategy and the great support of SLM Solutions, we step forward to achieving our next goals.”
The development of these new parameter sets for aluminium alloy F357, using a layer thickness of 60 µm and 700 W lasers, has now reached an important milestone. The properties of material produced using these parameters have significantly increased in comparison to conventional die-cast parts and are now said to exceed overall acknowledged metallic properties required for aerospace.
According to SLM Solutions, aluminium alloy F357 is not only lightweight but offers a significantly better corrosion resistance and desired mechanical properties than conventional Al alloys, such as high-strength across a wide temperature range, high weldability and suitability for post-processing steps such as machining and anodising.
This combination of properties makes F357 well-suited for use in thin-walled and complex structures, such as those used by the aerospace or automotive industry.
Benjamin Haas, Product Manager for Materials & Parameters at SLM Solutions, added, “It is a privilege to work together with one of the leading companies in the aerospace world. This way, we can learn a lot from each other leading to perfectly suited, industry proven solutions from which all of our customers can benefit.”