Advancements in Aluminum 3D Printing: Constellium and Morf3D’s Innovative Partnership


Global aluminium specialist Constellium has expanded its Additive Manufacturing Development Program through a partnership with Nikon’s subsidiary Morf3D specializing in metal additive manufacturing for the aviation, space, and defense sectors.

Addressing the increasing market demand for large-format additive manufacturing, this collaboration centers on the qualification and development of Constellium’s Aheadd CP1 powder solutions using the SLM500 system. Specifically, the Aheadd CP1 powder variant is designed to enhance production throughput and minimize upfront material costs.

“Our partnership with Constellium holds immense importance in advancing the development and qualification of advanced Aluminum alloy for additive manufacturing, now particularly in the context of the SLM®500 platform. Together, we are pioneering the development and qualification of CP1 Aluminum alloy to unlock new potential for lightweight, high-performance components such as heat exchangers produced by AM innovations. The utilization of CP1 Aluminum alloy on the SLM®500 platform and future larger-size platforms, promises to revolutionize our industry by offering enhanced design flexibility and material properties, ultimately pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable in additive manufacturing using aluminum alloys,” said Dr. Behrang Poorganji, CTO of Morf3D.

An in-depth look at AHEADD CP1 powder

AHEADD CP1, an aluminum-iron-Zirconium powder solution, was designed particularly for laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) additive manufacturing. It provides a multitude of benefits such as high strength and ductility, outstanding thermal and electrical conductivity, effective processing in high-productivity LPBF, and simplified post-processing methods.

The powder with a particle size distribution from 20 to 63µm is customizable as per request. It’s universally compatible with all L-PBF machines and is available in packaging of 5, 10, and 25kg drums. The powder produced by inert gas atomization, is validated via three different production methods. Its chemical composition adheres to (Aluminum Association No 8A61). Its standard heat treatment involves a 4-hour period at 400°C with the choice for aging (precipitation hardening) treatment in the air without severe control of ramp and cooling rates. Additional customization of properties can be achieved through custom heat treatments. More detailed information is available upon request.

“Thanks to Morf3D and other customers employing strong platforms, we have now confirmed that the great processability of Aheadd® CP1 powder allows the development of more optimized Particle Size Distribution for customers who want to reduce powder cost and increase printing productivity for their specific applications,” mentioned Dr. Alireza ARBAB, the Head of Constellium Additive Manufacturing.

In August, AddUp, a manufacturer of metal 3D printers, added Constellium’s Aheadd CP1 aluminum alloy to its FormlUp 350 machines. The company claims that Aheadd CP1 enhances productivity and heat dissipation compared to traditional alloys. It also streamlines post-build processes with a 400°C heat treatment, suggesting potential applications in the aerospace sector, beyond motorsports. The success of AddUp‘s FormUp 350 system suggests it could have broader industrial uses, the company reports.

Unlocking potential for 3D printing aluminium alloy

AML3D, an Australian 3D printer manufacturer, has extended its $280,000 USD ($370,000 AUD) contract with the BlueForge Alliance for Nickel-Aluminium-Bronze (NAB) alloy testing in support of the US Navy’s submarine programme. This extension verifies the quality of AML3D’s ARCEMY 3D printed alloys according to Navy standards. In alignment with AML3D’s US expansion strategy and interest from the AUKUS alliance, this initiative will incorporate ARCEMY technology into the US military. It also includes the sale of a large-scale ARCEMY 3D printing system, located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, valued at approximately $1.0 million AUD.

Aluminium Materials Technologies (AMT) collaborated with the University of Birmingham to explore the metallurgy of 3D printed aluminum alloy, dubbed A20X. Focusing on laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) and direct energy deposition (DED) techniques, the partnership investigated compositional changes, heat treatments, and additive manufacturing process parameters. A20X, known for its isotropic properties, is a high-strength aluminum-copper alloy extensively used in aerospace and motorsports.

Read all the 3D Printing Industry coverage from Formnext 2023.

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