Aeromet and Partners Continue Development of A20X Aluminum Alloy for 3D Printing

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UK-based Aeromet International manufactures aluminum and cast metal parts for the aerospace and defense industries. It has several prominent customers for which it supplies airframe and engine parts such as fuel system components, wing tips, doors and heat exchangers. The company is also known for developing the world’s strongest commercially available aluminum casting alloy, A20X, which is the first new aluminum alloy brought to market for the aerospace industry in over 40 years. Now Aeromet is leading a group of companies to further develop A20X for additive manufacturing. 

The group has been awarded funding from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Program (NATEP) to develop the alloy. As part of the High Strength Aluminum Powder for Additive Manufacture (HighSAP) project, Aeromet and its partners Rolls-Royce, Renishaw and PSI will work to further optimize A20X for additive manufacturing and produce a set of demonstrator parts.

NATEP, an Aerospace Growth Partnership initiative, is an industry-led program that supports UK companies in the aerospace industry developing innovative technologies.

“We are very pleased to have been awarded NATEP funding for this exciting project,” said Mike Bond, Director of Advanced Material Technology at Aeromet. “By working with our partners, we hope to further develop our powder technology and create a new option for high strength additive manufactured parts. NATEP is a great way for innovative companies to come together to develop cutting edge technologies.”

The A20X family includes the Metallic Materials Properties Development and Standardisation (MMPDS) approved A205 casting alloy and A20X powder for additive manufacturing. A20X is an aluminum-copper alloy with a highly refined microstructure and a unique solidification mechanism, giving it greater strength, fatigue and thermal characteristics than other alloys. Castings made from the alloy are already in production for high-strength, high-temperature aerospace applications, and HighSAP plans to take advantage of the alloy’s characteristics for additive manufacturing purposes.

“Rolls-Royce are excited to participate in this project and contribute to the development of this very promising new aluminium alloy,” said Paul Murray, Principal Materials Engineer at Rolls-Royce. “NATEP is a proven programme with a strong track record of supporting innovation in the UK aerospace supply chain.”

Aeromet has led two collaborative development projects through NATEP, and is actively engaged in cross-industry, collaborative R&D projects funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute. The company is also highly involved in the UK government’s industrial strategy for aerospace, known as the Aerospace Growth Partnership, which in turn is part of the Sharing in Growth program, a 2013 initiative to increase the productivity and effectiveness of the UK aerospace supply chain.

“PSI are very pleased to be a partner in this project which aligns very well with our strategy of optimising powders for additive manufacturing,” said Dr. Gordon Kerr of PSI Ltd. “PSI technology combines VIM with inert gas atomisation and this project will utilise our knowledge of processing and handling aluminium alloy powders.”

These companies will work together to develop what is already an extremely promising material into something that could prove central to increasing the use of additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: Aeromet]

The Industry Markets Continue to Underestimate

3d Key Shows Three Dimensional Printer Or Font

In late 2013, I attended the Advanced Engineering Show, a giant trade show for global engineering firms. Among the billion dollar companies were a number of startups.

These were tiny companies barely out of the research lab. But these are the kinds of companies that fascinate me. These are the kinds of companies that roll the dice on cutting edge tech. If successful, they can go from zero to a billion overnight.

One of the more mind blowing demonstrations at the show was tucked into the back corner. It was a humble little stand with a couple of banners, a TV playing a demo video, and of course the technology itself.

The technology was a printer that printed electrical circuits. It looked like the printer you have at home. Except this printer wasn’t printing ink on sheets of paper. It was printing thin, flexible sheets of electric circuits.

I wondered what the application of this would be. You could print electrical circuits onto almost any surface — walls, posters, doors, mirrors…

That was breakthrough tech just one year ago. It still is today. But as I’ve said before, one year is a long time in the tech world.

3D printing galloping forward

The 3D printing industry has been all over the place the past several months. Companies like Stratasys, 3D Systems, ExOne, Voxeljet and ProtoLabs have seen extreme volatility.

For example, ProtoLabs has a 52-week trading range of 54.97–94.23. Voxeljet has a 52-week trading range of 11.25–47.98. Stratasys has a 52-week range of 85.30–138.10. And 3D Systems has a range of 32.64–97.28.

Insanity!

What’s interesting, though, is right now most of those companies are in the bottom part of that trading range. Why? The market still can’t quite get its head around the potential of this industry.

But here is what some of the biggest research and analysis companies in the world think of the 3D printing industry.

  • Canalys predict the 3D printing industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.7% over the next four years.
  • IDC predict the growth rate to be 59% annually over the next three years.
  • Wells Fargo Wealth Management think the CAGR will be 81.9%
  • And Gartner suggests the CAGR will be 95%.

They have quite different views of exactly how fast the 3D printing industry will grow. And chances are none of them will be right.

But there’s an obvious trend among these forecasts. They all agree the industry is set for astronomical growth. The lowest CAGR is 45.7%. The highest is 95%.

It’s likely to be somewhere in between. It’s an industry on the rise. Yet, investors still don’t appreciate how influential 3D printing will be. So let me reiterate.

In the last year alone, almost every 3D printing company has brought to market a range of new printers. The best of them are multi-material printers from 3D Systems and Stratasys.

These are printers that can print with different textures, densities and surfaces, using a range of colours and materials. They’re also printing faster, larger, and in greater detail than ever before.

Imagine being able to print a chair. Not just a plastic chair. Imagine printing a timber chair with fabric arms and cushions. And the final print is all one piece. And it starts with just a click of the mouse…or swipe of the hand.

That’s high tech. And it’s soon to be a reality. But things are again about to get even better.

Now imagine 3D printing a blender. Seem complicated? A blender is really just a bit of plastic and metal with some electrical wiring and circuits.

3D printers are already able to print up the plastic parts easily. And thought a bit harder, they can now also print the metal parts. The difficulty is the electric components.

Nanowerk reports that researchers have been able to 3D print nanoelectronics. Lin Kong is one of the researchers. He said, ‘This work outlines an exciting breakthrough that enables the direct printing of functional, embedded, active 3D nanoelectronics using only a 3D printer.

Kong continues to explain, ‘Indeed, this is the first time to our knowledge that semiconducting nanoparticles have been 3D printed, and the first time that such a broad array of diverse functional materials have been fully interwoven entirely using a 3D printer.

Now this research was to ‘print interwoven structures of quantum dots, polymers, metal nanoparticles.’ With a little time and innovation, here’s what I think will happen. A big 3D printing company will release a printer that can print a fully functional electronic good.

It might be a remote control car. It might be a blender. Maybe one day you’ll be able to 3D print a computer. I even believe that one day we’ll be 3D printing our homes, complete with electrical wiring and ready to move into.

I’ve seen a 2D printer print off electrical circuits like a sheet of paper. It’s not going to be long until that’s a feature of consumer 3D printers.

And that really would mean a huge disruption in manufacturing. 3D printing is far more than a handy tool for designers and hobbyists. It completely changes how the world manufactures.

Regards,

Sam Volkering +

Editor, Tech Insider

For Sam’s latest updates, follow him on Twitter.

Tech Extra

The headline for this was enough to get my interest. And then I had a look at the actual article and photos. Mind. Blown. Cars and tech will do that to me. And these are some of the most high tech cars in the world.

I don’t know if the word ‘delicious’ is the word I’d use. My mate said he saw a guy in a trenchcoat by Port Melbourne the other day. This guy had on some VR-like goggles and was flying a drone. ‘Delicious’? No. ‘Weird’? Yes.

Speaking of circuits, this is a novel idea to make phones better. High speed phone connectivity is essential in a connected world. And this might just make things work the way we expect it will.

And this…

One area off the coast of the Philippines contains up to 380 million barrels of oil. A hardened team of Aussie drillers holds exclusive rights to extract it…and they’re going for every last drop.

3D Printing Stocks Continue to Print Money

Print This!


After three 3D printing stocks made gains in excess of 3 percent on Thursday, it almost happened again on Friday.

Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for 3D printing stocks.  After suffering through the spring season of “momo”-phobia, when investors 3D Printing 4 3D Printing Stocks Continue to Print Moneywere reluctant to buy so-called, “momentum” stocks, the entire 3D printing sector began to regain strength on the very day when many people avoid taking risks.  Most names in this sector now have relative strength indices above the “overbought” threshold of 70.

Friday the 27th sent 3D Systems (NYSEARCA:DDD) climbing 1.93 percent to $59.07.  ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE) – which has a forward (one-year) price/earnings ratio of 313 – demonstrated good-enough follow-through on Friday, rising 0.03 percent to $37.59, after Thursday’s 5.00 percent jump.  Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS), surged 2.76 percent to $112.14.  If SSYS had risen another 0.24 percent, Friday would have been the second consecutive session with three 3D printing stocks’ making gains in excess of 3 percent.  3D bioprinting company, Organovo (NYSE MKT:ONVO) jumped 4.88 percent to $8.60 per share.  Voxeljet (NYSEARCA:VJET) soared 5.09 percent to $19.63.

The solar sector had a relatively calm trading session on Friday.  The most extreme move was made by SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR), which jumped 1.11 percent to $41.06.  After soaring 9.63 percent on Thursday, Real Goods Solar – now known as RGS Energy (NASDAQ:RGSE) – climbed 0.34 percent to $2.97 on Friday.  First Solar (NASDAQ:FLSR) declined 0.10 percent to $71.40.  SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) rose 0.10 percent to $70.87.  “Canadian” (actually Chinese) Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) remained unchanged at $29.79.  The Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSEARCA:TAN) advanced 0.25 percent to $44.41.

Friday brought more enormous gains for GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) during its second day on the Nasdaq.  The manufacturer of small, wearable camcorders (used by surfers and extreme sports enthusiasts) had its IPO on Wednesday at $24 per share.  Thursday brought GPRO a 30.58 percent jump to $31.34.  On Friday, GoPro shares soared 14.10 percent to $35.76.

The four major biotech ETFs had another sober trading session on Friday.  These ETFs have been making moderate, yet steady steps higher since the first days of June, while the brief retreats have been less significant than the severe swoons which became commonplace during the spring.  On Friday, the First Trust NYSEARCA Biotechnology Index ETF (NYSEARCA:FBT) climbed 38 percent to $82.00.  The SPDR S&P Biotech Index ETF (NYSEARCA:XBI) surged 0.75 percent to $153.47.  The Market Vectors Biotech ETF (NYSEARCA:BBH) advanced 0.15 percent to $95.40.  The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index ETF (NYSEARCA:IBB) rose 0.14 percent to $256.73.

The major ETFs expected to respond to developments in the technology sector are:

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