Alain DUPONT is President & CEO of AP&C, a GE Additive company that focuses on materials used in the additive manufacturing industry. During a conversation with 3D Adept Media at Formnext, he pointed out the reasons why some materials are gaining more momentum than others and highlighted current industry issues to tackle in the management of materials.
Focus on AP&C…
It’s been more than 30 years that GE is exploiting additive manufacturing. However, in 2016, the company saw an opportunity to expand its activities and dedicated a group of companies to this sector. GE Additive includes today Concept Laser, Arcam EBM and AP&C, additive material provider.
AP&C specializes in spherical metal powder production designed for all additive manufacturing (AM) technologies. The core business of the company is Titanium. In addition to AM, other fields of application with which AP&C materials are compatible include metal injection molding, hot isostatic pressing as well as coatings.
However, at Formnext, the material producer announced that aluminum alloy F357 will be part of their offering from April 2019. This announcement raised awareness on the fact that some materials such as carbon-fiber, titanium or aluminium are often more portrayed than others when talking about AM applications.
Why this emphasis?
According to Alain Dupont, “a lot of customers often ask to do the same things and the materials they request the most, are titanium and aluminium”.
This can be understandable to the extent that the most demanding sectors of the industry are healthcare, aerospace and automotive.
A great number of applications in the healthcare industry is related to orthopedic implants which require the use of titanium during the manufacturing process.
As for aluminium, the material is ideal for some aerospace and automotive applications hence the new interest of AP&C.
Another reason is that it is often easier to exploit them in manufacturing because both materials share the same characteristics. Let’s take the example of the alloy F357, the newly launched material of the company. This material integrates properties similar to
APATM (Advanced Plasma Atomization) titanium powders. Indeed, they offer good processability, high flowability, high packing, low porosity and high purity which enable to improve performance and reliability of the aluminum printing process.
It makes no doubt that AP&C will satisfy its customers. They do not only respond quickly to the industry’s demands, they do so by creating value that gives a certain standard to their products.
In the meantime, the company is seeking to new solutions to improve powder recycling and powder lifecycle management in additive manufacturing processes. Those two issues still need to be tackled in order to provide a cost-effective process to customers on the one hand, on the other hand, to control risks for manufacturers, to add confidence and ensure traceability in powder production and repeated AM builds.
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