Design Engineering

Imperial, McMaster awarded grant to research use of scandium alloy for 3D printing

By DE Staff   

Additive Manufacturing Aerospace Automotive

Partners look to accelerate uptake of Al-Sc alloys for aerospace, automotive applications with $90,000 NSERC Alliance Grant.

Imperial Mining Group and the W. Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology at McMaster University have jointly been awarded an NSERC Alliance Grant for a three-year, $90,000 research program to explore the use of scandium-aluminum alloy for additive manufacturing (AM) applications. Specifically, the research program will focus on the alloy’s applicability to AM of metal parts for the aerospace, defense and automotive sectors.

Like it’s neighbor on the periodic table (titanium), scandium is prized for its ability to raising the tensile strength of aluminum. Al-Sc alloys are most commonly used in aerospace applications, most notably the Soviet MIG 29. However, it has seen limited use due in part to being difficult to smelt and, as a result, high cost.

“McMaster has been at the forefront of developing technical expertise in 3D printing and we are pleased to work with Imperial Mining Group to optimize scandium-enhanced aluminum alloys,” said Dr. M.A. Elbestawi, Research Lead, Additive Manufacturing Group, Faculty of Engineering. “Until recently, broader use of these specialty alloys has been challenged by the lack of a sustainable scandium supply and very high production costs. Imperial as a Canadian sustainable supplier becomes a transformational force which is able to considerably improve the situation. We are eager to begin this important research work as soon as possible.”

Imperial said it believes the company’s Crater Lake deposit will accelerate the uptake of Al-Sc alloys for use in subtractive and additive manufacturing processes and that the research program will enhance scandium’s market penetration for high-value components.



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