Aluminum Association, a Virginia-based trade association and standards organization, has announced that it will release a ‘purple sheet’ to describe standards for aluminum powder in 3D printing.
The ‘purple sheet’ is part of the association’s ‘rainbow sheet’ series. Each color of the rainbow sheet designates a distinct aluminum alloy and describes industry standards.
Jerome Fourmann, global technical director at Rio Tinto Aluminum and chairman of Aluminum Association’s Technical Committee on Product Standards, said, “The purple sheets are a true game-changer for the aluminum industry.”
“For the first time ever, a materials industry has developed a designation system specific to additive manufacturing, opening tremendous growth potential through standardization.”
The demand for aluminum
According to a report by the United States Geological Survey, the production of aluminum in 2018 in the United States was valued at $2.3 billion. 40% of the material was consumed by the transportation industry, while 19% was used in packaging and 9% in electronics.
Aluminum Association, through its Technical Committee on Product Standards (TCPS), has been working to standardize aluminum alloys in the U.S since 1954. In 1970, the Association was formally recognized by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). To date, the Aluminum Association has registered more than 500 aluminum alloys.
Heidi Brock, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association, said, “For decades, the Aluminum Association’s alloy and temper designation system has helped companies to gain wider acceptance in commercial applications – promoting the material’s use in the marketplace.”
In 3D printing, aluminum is one of the most commonly used metal in DMLS/SLM processes. It is lightweight and has strong mechanical properties which makes aluminum ideal for a range of applications in aerospace and automotive industry. Furthermore, due to aluminum’s conductive properties, the material is also widely used in electronics.
Aluminum symbol and mass 3D printed on a DMLS machine. Image via Materialise.3D Standardizing 3D printing
As interest in 3D printing grows, the need for standards has been recognized. In this context, earlier this year Underwriters Laboratories (UL) issued the Blue Card recognition system for plastics used in 3D printing.
And now, with the introduction of the ‘purple sheet’, it is hoped that aluminum 3D printing landscape will rapidly change. Brock adds, “The purple sheets are the next chapter in that story as we look toward a future of aluminum in additive manufacturing and 3D printing.”
The purple sheet will be published later this year. Businesses can have their alloy included in the publication by registering with the Association.
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Featured image shows a symbol of aluminum and mass 3D printed on a DMLS machine. Image via Materialise.