Binder Jetting Aluminium 6061 has achieved customer-qualified status for 3D printing by Ford Motor
USA — 3D printing specialist Ex One announced that aluminium alloy 6061 is now a Customer-Qualified material in collaboration with Ford Motor.
A new patent-pending process to binder jet 3D print and sinter aluminium alloy 6061 delivers rapid and repeatable results: 99 % density and material properties comparable to die casting, Ex One reports. Additional collaborative and individual patents are expected to be filed by Ford and Ex One as a result of the ongoing project, as detailed in a simultaneous announcement.
To date, the company has now qualified 23 metal, ceramic and sand materials for use on its industrial binder jetting printers. With the addition of aluminium, that now includes 12 single-alloy metals. Titanium is now fast-tracked for qualification in partnership with a global medical device company.
The company has a tiered material qualification system to signify the varying levels of material property results that parts 3D printed with its technology will deliver. These levels help manufacturing customers understand whether the binder jetting technology could meet their specific application needs.
Binder jetting is a 3D printing process that uses a digital file to quickly inkjet a binder into a bed of powder particles — metal, sand or ceramic — creating a solid part one layer at a time. When printing metals, the final part must be sintered in order to fuse the particles together into a solid object.
Ex One’s qualification of aluminium in collaboration with Ford is the result of a new patent-pending process for binder jet 3D printing and sintering. The achievement is highlighted even further by the fact it is being accomplished without excessive levels of liquid-phase sintering that leads to melting and distortion; this would prohibit many of the capabilities that bring manufactures to 3D printing in the first place, such as unique geometries.