Aeromet International, a UK-based foundry specialist, has announced that its patented aluminum additive manufacturing powder, A20X, has surpassed the Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) mark of 500 MPa. According to the company, this achievement establishes the material as “one of the strongest aluminium additive manufacturing powders commercially available.”
The milestone was reached as part of a research project to further develop and optimize the A20X aluminum powder. The High Strength Aluminium Powder for Additive Manufacture (HighSAP) project involves aero-engine giant Rolls-Royce, British metal 3D printer manufacturer Renishaw, and UK atomization experts Phoenix Scientific Industries Ltd (PSI). HighSAP is also backed by the UK’s National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP).
Mike Bond, Director of Advanced Material Technology at Aeromet, commented “Since bringing the A20X™ alloy to market for additive manufacturing 5 years ago we have seen significant adoption for high-strength, design-critical applications.”
“By working with Rolls-Royce, Renishaw and PSI we have optimised processing parameters that led to record-breaking results, opening up new design possibilities for aerospace and advanced engineering applications.”
New high score for HighSAP
A20X is an aluminum-copper alloy material with a refined microstructure that gives it “greater strength, fatigue and thermal characteristics compared to other alloys.” Originally it was developed as a casting alloy which has received Metallic Materials Properties Development and Standardization (MMPDS) and Aerospace Material Standards (AMS) approval. In this form, the material is already employed by a global network of leading aerospace casting suppliers.
Derived from its aluminum casting alloy counterpart, Aeromet’s A20X powder for additive manufacturing has been put to the test in the HighSAP project. Heat-treating parts produced using the powder, partners achieved a yield strength of 440 MPa, and 13 percent elongation. Most significantly, the components produced a UTS of 511 MPa, not only trumping the 500 MPa mark, but also eclipsing the 477 MPa UTS score achieved by previous 3D printed A20X parts.
Developing the A20X aluminum powder
Founded in 1982, Aeromet is a manufacturer and supplier of cast metal parts to the global aerospace and defense industries. The company provides a variety of parts, including engine and fuel system components to winglets and doors, for a number of major OEMs, including Airbus, Boeing, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.
Aeromet has placed significant focus on developing unique solutions for complex parts, including its A20X casting alloy and additive manufacturing powder, which it has been developing with Renishaw since 2017. Later in April 2018, Aeromet confirmed its involvement in the HighSAP project alongside its partners. The company also disclosed that it had been awarded funding from NATEP to help further develop the A20X aluminum powder for 3D printing.
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Featured image shows Aeromet’s A20X aluminum alloy. Photo via Aeromet International Ltd.