Researchers find Equispheres aluminum powder suitable for binder jet process
McGill University study finding could have major implications for automotive industry’s use of additive manufacturing.0
Canadian material science company, Equispheres, revealed that testing, done in partnership with McGill University, found the company’s aluminum alloy powders are suitable for sintering with binder jet technology. While roughly 100 times faster than traditional laser-based processes, binder jet printers were previously unable to sinter aluminum alloys. According to the company, its powder will enable binder jet printing to work with some of the most in-demand production materials (i.e. aluminum alloys).
“The unique and tailored attributes of Equispheres powder have proven exceptional in compaction free sintering.” Explains Dr. Mathieu Brochu, Associate Professor at McGill and Canada Research Chair in Pulse Processing of Nanostructured Materials, “We are excited to begin work with Equispheres’ binder jet printing partners in the next phase to fully understand all aspects related to sintering of complex shape components and the fundamental relations with new specialized binder agents.”
Specifically, McGill researchers found Equispheres’ standard AlSi10Mg aluminum alloy powder capable of compaction-free, sub-solidus sintering densification greater than 95% and excellent microstructure.
“We are excited about the industry response to our unique aluminum sintering results,” said Equispheres’ CEO, Kevin Nicholds. “Although binder jet printer technology offers the speed and cost reductions necessary to enable additive manufacturing to meet the requirements of automotive mass production, the inability to print with aluminum alloys has been a major limitation to the technology – until now.”
Equispheres says it is presently working to develop specialized binder agents required for aluminum and for specific automotive applications and is optimistic the powder will prove to be a new high standard for many critical parts as the process is refined and testing continues.