Amaero, an Australian metal additive manufacturing service provider, has signed an agreement with an unnamed automotive manufacturer to jointly develop 3D printed tooling.
Specifically, Amaero will be using its suite of metal additive manufacturing technology to create steel inserts for two aluminium casting die components. Using additive manufactured inserts for tools, according to Amaero, can potentially decrease the risk of manufacturing defects by adding conformal cooling channels to the design.
Amaero CEO Barrie Finnin, commented: “This agreement reinforces Amaero’s growth strategy in the most difficult of economic circumstances. We can print the tool steel inserts with complex internal cooling channels that presently cannot be undertaken using conventional techniques.”
Origins at Monash University
Founded in 2013, Amaero is an offshoot of the Monash University Centre for Additive Manufacturing (MCAM) in Melbourne, Australia, where a majority of its activities have taken place. Working closely with Monash since then, the company has gone on to establish operations in South Australia’s capital through a partnership with the University of Adelaide. Its U.S. subsidiary, AM Aero, is located in El Segundo, Los Angeles. The company has secured licensing rights for a high-strength titanium alloy and an aluminum-scandium alloy developed at Monash University. Additionally, Amaero has an exclusive U.S. distribution agreement “for the world’s fastest laser-based powder bed 3D printer.”
In December 2019, Amaero announced that it was now listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) following an IPO that raised $8 million at 20c per share. Innovyz, an Australian commercialization and incubator program, was partly credited for Amero’s success leading up to the ASX listing. As such, the company will continue to work with Amaero on its short, medium and long-term development and growth goals.
Metal 3D printing in aerospace and automotive
Many of Amaero’s projects include manufacturing large-format, high performing metal components for the aerospace industry using its fleet of PBF and DED metal 3D printing technologies. One such project is a 3D printed jet engine developed for leading French aerospace component manufacturer Safran Power Units. Additionally, the firm is also involved in Next Aero and Woodside Energy’s efforts in creating an efficient aerospike engine, known as “Project X.”
Its PBF metal 3D printers include a Concept Laser XLine 1000R and two EOSINT 280Ms. Amaero also has a DED system – the Trumpf 7040 Laser Cell Powder Deposition facility on its shop floor, which enables the production of components up to 4000 x 1500 x 750mm.
Now with its new agreement, the company will be focused on developing 3D printed tooling for the automotive industry. By reducing the risk of manufacturing defects, Amaero states that additive manufactured inserts can also enable significant cost benefits by limiting the amount of rejects in the casting, machining and assembly processes that the tools are used in.
Amaero first manufactured tooling inserts four years ago, according to Finnin, however it had only recently become a strategic focus for the business. The Amaero CEO explains that the design, manufacture and testing of the inserts, and the components manufactured with them, will help to formulate a case study illustrating the advantages of conformal cooling in the aluminium die-casting process.
Finnin added: “Hopefully the case study will pave the way for these tooling components to be implemented into full-scale manufacturing.
“These tooling inserts are common to die-casting tools globally, and once this AM process is proven, there would be scope for significant global opportunities.”
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Featured image shows Amaero’s Concept Laser XLine 1000R system. Photo via Amaero.