Aluminum metal material can be printed by 3D

A few days ago, Belgium's online 3D printing service platform i.materialise announced that it has added a new type of 3D printed metal material - aluminum. According to the company, aluminum is an ideal material for making lightweight and strong metal end use parts. Currently, i.materialise has launched a trial service specifically for this material.

Aluminum is the most commonly used colored (or low iron) metal. As a 3D printed metal material, it has many benefits, the most notable being that it is lighter. This provides designers and engineers with a new reliable method for manufacturing strong, precise but lightweight metal parts. More importantly, aluminum has a wide range of uses, such as the manufacture of spare parts or functional parts, design jewellery and other products.

Unlike the aluminum milled aluminium on our daily contact, the surface of 3D printed aluminum is slightly blunted. It is not shiny, has a subtle matte feeling, and the texture is slightly rough.

For the 3D printing with aluminum, i.materialise will use direct metal laser sintering technology. This technique uses a laser beam to melt the fine metal powder. In this case, the aluminum alloy powder is used. In short, the laser beam sinters the aluminum alloy powder layer by layer to a specific shape according to your 3D model until your printed object is complete. After the laser sintering was completed, the technician at i.materialise took the model from the metal powder bed and carefully removed all the support structures. In this way, one work is completed.

This material's 3D printing can achieve some small details (even as small as 0.25mm). If the surface is small, the minimum wall thickness for printing should be 0.5 mm and the larger surface is 1 mm. In addition, DMLS offers a high dimensional accuracy, while the general accuracy of aluminum is in the range of 2%. Currently, i.materialise can use aluminum 3D printed models with a maximum size of 250 x 250 x 295 mm.

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