With the goal of expanding additive manufacturing applications for aluminium, one of the most sought-after materials for use in automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics, Desktop Metal, Inc. and Uniformity Labs have jointly developed sinterable 6061 aluminum for Binder Jetting 3D Printing.

The announcement is the result of a multi-year collaboration between the companies to develop a low-cost and raw material. It preceded a similar development performed by Ford & ExOne to achieve the same goals in the additive manufacturing industry.

With greater than ten percent (10%) elongation and improved yield strength (YS) and ultimate tensile strength (UTS) versus wrought 6061 aluminum with comparable heat treatment, the US-based manufacturer of AM solutions explains that this new powder enables the sintering of unadulterated 6061 aluminum.

Furthermore, it would drastically enhance prior techniques used to sinter aluminum, which required coating powder particles, mixing sintering aids into powder, using binders containing expensive nanoparticles, or adding metals such as lead, tin and magnesium.

“The global aluminum castings market is more than $50 billion per year, and it is ripe for disruption with binder jetting AM solutions. These are the best reported properties we are aware of for a sintered 6061 aluminum powder, and we are excited to make this material available exclusively to Desktop Metal customers as part of our ongoing partnership with Uniformity Labs”, Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal states.

The sinterable 6061 aluminum would allow for compatibility with water-based binders. Due to its higher minimum ignition energy (MIE) relative to other commercially available 6061 aluminum powders, it leads to an improved safety profile.

The next step for Desktop Metal and Uniformity Labs is to qualify the powder and scale production for its commercialisation. Desktop Metal states in a press communication that once fully qualified, Uniformity 6061 aluminum will be available for use with its Production System™ platform.

The introduction of lightweight metals to binder jetting opens the door to a wide variety of thermal and structural applications across industries,” said Adam Hopkins, founder and CEO of Uniformity Labs. “This innovation is a key step towards the adoption of mass-produced printed aluminum parts.”

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