27 Apr 2020
Collaborative venture succeeds in boosting process and cost efficiency of 3D-printed amorphous parts.Heraeus Amloy and Trumpf have started working together on the 3D printing of amorphous metals, also known as metallic glasses. Their aim is to establish the printing of amorphous parts as a standard production method on the shop floor by improving process and cost efficiencies.
Amorphous metals can be twice as strong as steel, yet significantly lighter and more elastic. They exhibit isotropic behavior, which means their material properties remain identical, regardless of the direction in which a 3D printer builds up the workpiece.
The partners say that a number of areas could benefit from 3D printing of such materials. The launch announcement states, “Examples include parts that are subject to significant stresses and lightweight design in sectors such as aerospace and mechanical engineering. These materials are also an excellent choice for medical devices due to their biocompatibility.”
“3D printing of amorphous components in industry is still in its infancy,” commented Jürgen Wachter, of Heraeus Amloy. This collaboration will help us speed up printing processes and improve surface quality. This will make the technology more suitable for a wider range of applications.”
Klaus Parey, managing director Trumpf Additive Manufacturing, said, “Amorphous metals hold potential for numerous industries. For example, they can be used in medical devices – one of the most important industries for additive manufacturing. That’s why we believe this collaboration is such a great opportunity to make even more inroads into this key market with our industrial 3D printing systems.”
Amorphous metals are formed by rapidly cooling molten metal. A 3D printer can then build them into larger, more complex parts – something that other methods cannot do. 3D printing also exploits the considerable potential that amorphous metals hold for lightweight design. The materials are lightweight, so their combination with 3D printing can reduce weight in all sorts of applications. The technology enables users to build parts in one piece instead of making components one by one and then assembling them into a finished part.
In this cooperation, Heraeus Amloy has optimized its amorphous alloys for 3D printing and tailored the material for use with Trumpf’s TruPrint systems. The latest-generation TruPrint 2000 machine is designed such that excess powder can be prepared in an inert gas environment for the subsequent building process. This protects the powder from adverse influences.
Trumpf has also boosted the productivity of the TruPrint 2000. Two 300W lasers scan the machine’s entire build chamber in parallel. Using a laser focal diameter of just 55µm, users can carry out both low and high-volume production of amorphous parts with extremely high surface quality. The “Melt Pool Monitoring” function automatically monitors the quality of the melt pool, so any errors in the process are spotted at an early stage.