SLM Solutions’ partnership with Elementum 3D to produce high-performance parts with high-quality alloys for aerospace and space customers

Colorado-based additive manufacturing material developer Elementum 3D has acquired NXG XII 600 and entered a material development agreement with SLM Solutions, a metal 3D printer manufacturer.

The collaboration broadens the use of additive manufacturing, increases exposure for Elementum 3D materials, and enables SLM Solutions to rapidly expand the material portfolio for the NXG XII 600. High-performance alloys from Elementum 3D will be available on SLM technology as early as 2023.

“This strong partnership will enable our goal of empowering our customers to achieve theirs. It will pave a path for an enhanced material portfolio enabling better-performing applications and new business cases. We look forward to this partnership achieving new heights in AM and accelerating the idea-to-production platform for our customers,” said Sam O’Leary, CEO of SLM Solutions.

Unmodified 6061 aluminum alloy after printing showing large grains extensive network of intergranular cracking, compared to Elementum 3D’s A6061-RAM2 aluminum alloy showing a crack-free microstructure. Photo via Elementum 3D.
Unmodified 6061 aluminum alloy after printing showing large grains and an extensive network of intergranular cracking, compared to Elementum 3D’s A6061-RAM2 aluminum alloy showing a crack-free microstructure. Photo via Elementum 3D.

How does this partnership prove beneficial to aerospace and space customers?

According to SLM Solutions, the aerospace and space industries are eager to incorporate new materials but have encountered numerous challenges with difficult-to-print, widely sought alloys that crack. The partnership between SLM Solutions and Elementum 3D aims to address these difficulties by designing exclusive aluminum alloys 2024 and 6061 or aerospace grade 7050 and 7075 for SLM technology in 2023. In this way, both companies are collaborating to improve material offerings based on the 12-laser technology used to print end-use parts for space travel. According to the company, Elementum 3D’s RAM technology ensures the secure processing and positive outcome of additively manufactured parts with these difficult-to-print materials, opening up entirely new possibilities in terms of component size, processing speeds, and material properties.

Elementum 3D obtained the SLM machine NXG XII 600 from SLM Solutions as part of a joint development agreement, and both companies are dedicated to offering and developing novel technologies and materials. The goal is to develop parameters and market Elementum 3D materials for use in SLM machines, particularly the NXG XII 600. The agreement broadens the use of additive manufacturing, raises awareness of Elementum 3D materials, and enables SLM Solutions to rapidly increase the material selection for the 12-laser machine. The collaboration will give the NXG XII 600 even more impetus and result in what the company describes as even more innovative, additively manufactured, high-quality parts.

Jacob Nuechterlein, President and Founder of Elementum 3D, further explained the benefits of the agreement for additive manufacturing users: “We are pleased to announce this working agreement with SLM Solutions. With Elementum 3D’s ground-breaking materials and SLM Solutions’ leadership in production-sized printers for aluminum, we can offer a full solution to organizations ready to take their ideas to production.”

In other news, SLM Solutions was awarded the ‘Enterprise 3D Printer of the Year Award’ at the 3D Printing Industry Awards 2022 for its NXG XII 600 3D printer.

The SLM Solutions NXG XII 600 3D printer. Image via SLM Solutions.
The SLM Solutions NXG XII 600 3D printer. Photo via SLM Solutions.

Material developments in additive manufacturing

Previously, researchers at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania created a novel machine learning-based approach to grouping materials based on structural similarities. An artificial neural network was employed to pinpoint structural similarities and trends in a large database of over 25,000 microscopic images of materials in what the team claims is the first study of its kind. The technique can be used to discover previously unknown connections among newly developed materials and even correlate factors such as structure and properties, potentially spawning a new method of computational material development for industries such as 3D printing.

Furthermore, RPS, a British 3D printer manufacturer, introduced the NEO Material Development Kit, a polymer research and development tool. It is designed to be compatible with the company’s NEO800 SLA 3D printer and enables R&D firms to create a range of novel polymers that are unavailable in the industry. The kit, designed by RPS engineers, is available in a variety of vat and platform sizes. RPS also developed a module in its proprietary Titanium software for the NEO Material Development Kit, enabling users to create materials and processing parameters. This tool allows designers to utilize multiple resin formulations at the same time, providing timely scalability at different phases of the material development process.

Elsewhere, HP unveiled the Material Development Kit (MDK) for their Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers. 3DPI’s Editor-in-Chief, Michael Petch visited HP’s Corvallis site in Oregon to learn firsthand how the company, founded at what is considered the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley”, plans to use the MDK to accelerate the next industrial revolution. “When I spoke with Shane Wall, Chief Technology Officer for HP and the Director of HP Labs, at the Gigaom Change conference in Austin, he told me, “when we entered this market we wanted to do something that was absolutely disruptive.”

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Feature image shows SLM Solutions and Elementum 3D representatives. Image via SLM Solutions.