Binder jetting pioneer ExOne has announced a significant expansion of its qualified materials portfolio for its metal additive manufacturing systems. The company has added 15 new qualified materials, including metals, ceramics and composite materials, bringing its total list of qualified materials to 21.
As of the announcement, ExOne customers utilizing its metal binder jetting platform have access to a broad range of materials, including 10 single-alloy metals, six ceramics and five composite materials. Among the newly qualified powders is M2 Tool Steel widely used for cutting tools and Silicon carbide, a ceramic material with applications in the aerospace sector.
ExOne has also revealed it has qualified an additional 24 powder materials for use in controlled R&D environments, including aluminum and Inconel 718.
“ExOne continues to make aggressive and outstanding progress in qualifying new materials for 3D printing on our machines,” commented John Hartner, CEO of ExOne. “Qualifying a new material for binder jet 3D printing is complex work that involves optimizing how materials, machines and processes work together. We would like to thank our customers and partners for their assistance in accelerating this important work, which is enabling more sustainable manufacturing and part designs.”
The new materials have been qualified for ExOne’s binder jetting technology thanks to collaborations with a number of partners, including Global Tungsten & Powders, H.C. Starck Solutions, NASA, ORNL, SGL Carbon, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Texas at El Paso and Virginia Tech.
The newly announced materials fall into three qualification levels, which reflect the various degrees of “material readiness” for a variety of applications. The first level, third-party qualified materials, includes materials that have undergone and passed rigorous ExOne tests and have verified material property data from an independent third party. The second, customer-qualified materials, includes powders that haven been qualified by ExOne customers based on their own standards. The third level, R&D qualified materials, encompasses materials that have passed a preliminary qualification phase by ExOne and are considered printable but are being further developed.
Here is the breakdown of ExOne’s binder jetting materials for its metal 3D printers per category:
Third-party qualified materials
- Metals: 17-4PH, 304L, 316L, M2 tool steel
- Metal Composites: 316 with bronze, 420 with bronze, tungsten with bronze
- Metals: cobalt chrome, copper, H13 tool steel, Inconel 625, titanium, tungsten heavy alloy
- Ceramics: alumina, carbon, natural sand, synthetic sand, silicon carbide, tungsten carbide-cobalt
- Ceramic-metal composites: boron-carbide aluminum, silicon carbide with silicon
- Metals: 4140, 420, 4340, 4605, aluminum, bronze, H11 tool steel, Hastelloy, Haynes 230, Inconel 718, iron-chrome-aluminum, Panacea, tungsten, TZM Molybdenum
- Ceramics: aluminum nitride, barium titanate, boron carbide, glass, lead zirconate titanate (PZT), silicon nitride, tungsten carbide, zirconia, zirconium carbide
- Metal composites: iron with bronze, tungsten with copper, tungsten with Invar
The aluminum question
Though aluminum is one of the most used metals in the automotive and aerospace industries, it has been notoriously challenging to print using binder jetting technology. With aluminum qualified as an R&D material, ExOne is hoping to fast-track its development. The company is also working with various manufacturing partners to accelerate the commercialization of aluminum for its binder jetting platform.
“While our team can binder jet aluminum in controlled R&D environments today, we believe that optimizing this material for high-speed 3D printing will eventually transform how car and airplane parts are made, making them smarter and lighter weight,” said Rick Lucas, CTO at ExOne. “Based on high demand from the marketplace, we have fast-tracked development of this material to use on our machines.”