Based in Luxembourg, AM 4 AM is a start-up that specializes in the development of metallic additive manufacturing materials based on a green approach. While it is still too early to talk about its technology, we already know the company has filed a patent for its green powder modification process.
Behind AM 4 AM stands Maxime Delmée, a curious scientist who dived into this journey, with a background as a chemist and a PhD in materials science. Today, in this Opinion of the Week, the founder unveils the vision of AM 4 AM, a company that finally brings a fresh wind to an industry which has become obsessed with environmental issues and sustainability.
During his researches, Delmée quickly became aware of the potential of additive manufacturing for demanding industries - such as aerospace, but his main focus was materials the technology was able to process.
“The market is continuously evolving but only a small range of materials is available for AM. Our goal is, therefore, to expand the line of materials that can be processed by AM” explains Delmée.
Many companies have the same objective. What makes you outstanding?
Our manufacturing process of metallic powders enables us to stand out from the crowd. I would be able to further discuss it in the upcoming months, but I can already confirm that it is a very low-polluting process - which requires the use of electricity and gas - and facilitates the development of lighter, easier to process and less polluting alloys.
Can you talk about an alloy that is being developed at AM 4 AM?
Yes, we are currently developing a high mechanical strength aluminium alloy powder (similar to Al 7075). The alloy is designed to meet the requirements of the aerospace and aeronautics sectors.
The reality is that aluminium alloy 7075 often integrates zinc as the main element. It can withstand fatigue while being subject to cracks, which makes it more fragile, according to Delmée.
“By modifying its properties, it is possible on the one hand, to turn it into a material compatible with AM, on the other hand, to increase its strength compared to other steels, and to bring its properties as close as possible to the aluminium used in conventional manufacturing,” explains the scientist.
Delmée also highlights a striking point in the current market of AM powders:
Titanium is a material that is currently gaining momentum in additive manufacturing applications, but it is not the only material that can achieve viable applications. Indeed, compared to other metal powders, titanium promises a 29% growth by 2024. Its use would be more glaring in the aerospace sector due to its ability to withstand the effects of corrosion and outstanding weather resistance (Global Market Insights, Additive Manufacturing with Metal Powders Market).
However, aluminium remains the second most demanded material in the industry. It offers interesting properties such as lightweight for certain applications. However, the material offers a lot of unexplored opportunities that could increase its strength, hence the interest of AM 4 AM to develop new alloys, similar to its original material.
Could we talk about high-performance materials then?
“I wouldn't talk about high-performance materials but rather materials with additional properties. The idea of AM 4 AM is to provide additional properties to certain alloys. The first product we are developing is a high-strength aluminium intended for AM and similar to Al 7075. It delivers very important mechanical resistance properties and is widely used in aeronautics.”
The truth is that the founder of AM 4 AM can only speak on behalf of his company, not on behalf of all material producers. That’s also the reason why, when asked what characteristics should be taken into account in the choice and validation of an AM material, he first laid emphasis on the fact that AM 4 AM's choice to develop this aluminium alloy follows discussions with various manufacturers, who highlighted “this absence [as] a hurdle to the expansion of AM technologies in the industry. »
Speaking of the validation process of this material, he continues: “First, this will mainly be done through mechanical tests to optimize the process and material properties. Once the material has been optimized, we will have it qualified for aeronautics. This qualification will be done by a partner qualified in aeronautics.”
The type of AM technology that can process the alloys developed by AM 4 AM
The metal powder manufacturer tells us that powder-bed fusion technologies will be the first to process its alloys. Over time, other products dedicated to EBAM, DED or other AM technologies will be considered.
What would you like to say to companies that are discovering you?
If you have any concerns with materials and their thermal constraints when it comes to processing them with AM, we provide solutions to meet these types of demand.
Any last words?
We are constantly looking for partners with development projects. Feel free to reach out to us if you are one of them.
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