Elementum 3D secures $2.8M funding for high-strength aluminum in America Makes initiative

Following the America Makes project call winners announcement, Elementum 3D has announced that America Makes has selected its proposal for the high-strength A7050-RAM2 aluminum additive manufacturing (AM) feedstock qualification.

Funded by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Research and Engineering Manufacturing Technology Office (OSD(R&E)) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), this project has awarded Elementum 3D with cost reimbursements up to $2,875,000. For a comprehensive project effort exceeding $4.2 million, Elementum 3D and its consortium partners will commit at least 50% of the amount as a cost share. The program results will be shared with America Makes members and the U.S. Government.

Named “Proliferation of AM Materials Datasets,” this initiative seeks to create thorough material property datasets for aluminum and nickel alloys, targeting the acceleration of AM adoption in crucial sectors like aerospace, defense, automotive, and energy. Taking the lead on this project, Elementum 3D will collaborate with partners including Battelle, Castheon, Dyndrite Corporation, Eaton Corporation, EOS North America, Incodema3d, National Institute for Aviation Research, Product Evaluation Systems (PES), The Ohio State University Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, and Westmoreland Mechanical Testing and Research

Dr. Jacob Nuechterlein, Elementum 3D President and Founder said, “America Makes’ push to advance AM material datasets is monumental for the manufacturing industry. It stimulates greater confidence in high-strength aluminum print quality and broadens the AM supply chain. We are excited to join forces with the other awardees. Together, our expansive knowledge and expertise in materials development establishes the future of AM materials.”

An optical micrograph of Elementum 3D's additively manufactured (3D metal printed) A7050-RAM2 aluminum 7050. Microstructure with RAM additions expressing the absence of hot tearing and minimized porosity. Photo via Elementum 3D.
An optical micrograph of Elementum 3D’s additively manufactured (3D metal printed) A7050-RAM2 aluminum 7050. Microstructure with RAM additions expressing the absence of hot tearing and minimized porosity. Photo via Elementum 3D.

Industry leaders unite to advance metal AM materials

First announced in August 2023, this project aims to enhance AM material datasets by rigorously documenting, statistically grounding, and diversifying information for industrial relevance. As a part of this project, Dyndrite will provide copies of its LPBF Pro software to enable rapid build preparation, materials, and process development, and report generation for qualifications for the EOS metal 3D printing machines selected for this effort. 

LPBF Pro will largely automate the process of generating additive material data sets, traditionally a tedious manual task. The software will also improve the process of communicating methodology and achieving repeatable results, a traditionally user-error-prone process.

Other parties from the consortium will also be actively providing their expertise for this project. PES is partnering with Elementum 3D to support America Makes in generating design-allowable databases for additively manufactured aluminum. PES, a long-time supporter of Elementum 3D and America Makes, aims to contribute its expertise in mechanical, metallurgical, and chemical characterization to accelerate the integration of A7050-RAM2 aluminum into additive manufacturing.

Eaton Corporation will collaborate to develop a design allowable dataset for A7050-RAM2, aiming to expedite superior AM solutions for the aerospace sector. Eaton brings extensive experience in statistically based material allowables for various metal additive manufacturing processes, intending to guide aerospace product qualification expectations.

According to Elementum 3D, the demand from manufacturers for on-demand components necessitates lightweight, high-strength aluminum materials with superior fatigue and stress corrosion cracking resistance. For this reason, the A7050-RAM2 aluminum feedstock from Elementum 3D secured the gold medal in the “Material Hurdles” event at the 2020 US Air Force Advanced Manufacturing Olympics, further highlighting its noteworthy attributes.

Elementum 3D logo. Photo via Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing.
3D printed Elementum 3D logo. Photo via Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing.

Elementum 3D propels AM innovation

In alliance with Elementum 3D, NASA completed the 3D printing and testing of a novel rocket engine nozzle under the RAMFIRE project. The weldable aluminum, A6061-RAM2, was used to develop the nozzle which possesses the required heat-resistant properties for rocket engines. 

With its low density, the 3D printed RAMFIRE nozzle is lighter than conventional ones, enabling deep space missions with heavier payloads. The single-piece design, incorporating internal channels, minimizes manufacturing steps, reduces bonds, and allows large-scale engine component production in days. This project was funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

Previously, Elementum 3D acquired Nikon SLM SolutionsNXG XII 600 and entered an AM material development agreement with the company. This partnership was aimed at expanding additive manufacturing, showcasing Elementum 3D materials, and enabling Nikon SLM Solutions to enhance the NXG XII 600’s material portfolio. The partnership addressed challenges in aerospace industries and aimed to develop and market Elementum 3D’s materials for use in Nikon SLM Solutions’ machines.

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Featured image shows an optical micrograph of Elementum 3D’s additively manufactured (3D metal printed) A7050-RAM2 aluminum 7050. Microstructure with RAM additions expressing the absence of hot tearing and minimized porosity. Photo via Elementum 3D.