Tessa’s Weekly Picks – 3D Printed in Aluminum


Tessa Blokland  


In the review of Dutch Design Week 2019, I mentioned the wide experimentation of unconventional material developments by designers. DDW featured projects that are more on the experimental side, yet in metal additive manufacturing there are a lot of developments in specialty materials, for industrial use. I hope to see more interesting news during Formnext, which will take place next week, meanwhile, in this blog post, I have focused on 3D printed objects in aluminum. Aluminum is a light and strong material, and recommendable for functional parts requiring high strength, stiffness, low weight, and high accuracy. Aluminum also has great corrosion resistance, making it an ideal material for outdoor applications, and high electrical and thermal conductivity.

What you see here (and top image) is a topological gyroid heat exchanger design, 3D printed in HRL high strength aluminum 7A77, as a section to show the internal geometries. According to HRL Laboratories, the material is the strongest additive manufacturing aluminum to date. Commercially available since October 2019, HRL researchers have begun to explore the industrial applications of 7A77 and the company will exhibit the material at Formnext as well. I will go there to have a look, I’m sure I’ll be impressed.

Another strong aluminum powder comes from Aerometaluminum alloys powder A20X. The powder is an aluminum-copper alloy with a highly-refined microstructure and a unique solidification mechanism, which the company says gives it greater strength and thermal characteristics compared to other powder alloys.

The 3D printed elements you see here are from Kanthal. The properties of the heat resistant ferritic iron-chromium-aluminum alloy (FeCrAl alloy) is known for its high-temperature corrosion resistance and its popular use for heating elements.

The wheels of the Audi lunar Quattro are 3D printed with the aluminum alloy AlSi10MgSr. The vehicle was developed by the Berlin scientists of Part-Time Scientists for the lunar surface.

In order to meet the growing demands in the automotive sector (such as heat management, size, and weight reduction) 3D printing in aluminum brings interesting solutions. In this example of a VW Caddy, functions linked to heat management, passive safety, and fluids storage have been integrated into the 3D printed, load-driven design of the front-end module. Metal powder specialist Heraeus (also presenting at Formnext) supplied and qualified the high-strength aluminum alloy Scalmalloy®, developed by APWORKS, to manufacture the components.

LEO Lane_Weekly Pick_3D Printed in Aluminum

Each of Tessa’s weekly picks is a curated group of 3D printed designs, based on the week’s chosen theme. If you would like to offer a theme for Tessa, or if you have your own 3D printed weekly picks you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest weekly picks every week in your mailbox.

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