What Materials are Commonly Used in Metal Additive Manufacturing?

What Materials are Commonly Used in Metal Additive Manufacturing?

Manufacturing Technology Insights | Friday, October 01, 2021

Using powdered stainless steel, the evidence-based machine technique produces dense, super-strong, waterproof parts for severe environments like rockets, jet engines, and even nuclear power plants.

FREMONT, CA: For successful powder bed fusion in additive manufacturing, high-quality metal powder and wire feedstock are critical. Powdered metals are available in a variety of forms to meet specific processes and requirements. Powdered titanium, copper, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, cobalt chrome, titanium, nickel-based alloys, and precious metals including gold, platinum, palladium, and silver are all available.

Steel and stainless steel alloys and pure metals such as titanium, niobium, molybdenum, tungsten, and aluminum are accessible as wire feedstock.

Titanium Alloys

In general, titanium alloys are adopted in additive manufacturing to produce several industrial components, including blades, rings, discs, hubs, fasteners, and vessels. Titanium alloys are also utilized to produce high-performance race engine parts like gearboxes and connecting rods. Like cobalt chrome, titanium’s biocompatibility makes the metal a viable choice for medical applications, mainly when direct metal contact with bone or tissue is necessary.

Precious Metals

In DMLM (Direct Metal Laser Melting) machines, powdered gold, silver, platinum, and palladium can be sintered for additive manufacturing. To make jewelry, extremely fine metal powder is partially melted. The object is excavated from the residual metal powder at the end of the operation, similar to an archaeological dig. Interlocking or interlaced designs are only achievable with additive manufacturing, resulting in unique and exquisite jewelry pieces. 

Stainless Steel

Hardness, tensile strength, formability, and impact resistance are among the mechanical qualities of stainless steel utilized in additive manufacturing, which are desirable in various automotive, industrial, food processing, and medical applications. Using powdered stainless steel, the EBM (Evidence-Based Machine) technique produces dense, super-strong, waterproof parts for severe environments like rockets, jet engines, and even nuclear power plants. In 2016, for example, a feasibility study looked into the possibility of employing low-carbon stainless steel in EBM machines to make nuclear pressure vessels. Because it is weldable, corrosion-resistant, and exceptionally robust, 316L steel was chosen.

Aluminum Alloys

Many industrial, aeronautical, and automotive applications have traditionally used lightweight aluminum alloys for additive manufacturing. They have high strength-to-weight ratios and exhibit excellent resistance to metal fatigue and corrosion. In addition, aluminum alloy powders have many advantages over other metal powders used in PDF techniques, including higher build rates. Further, weight reduction is typically attainable with little or no strength loss and overall performance due to the geometrically complex structures possible with additive manufacturing.

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