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UC Rusal teams with Sauer to develop aluminium 3D printing technology
When it comes to metal 3D printing, most attention usually goes to the iconic titanium powders – even though aluminum might be even more potent, especially for the aerospace and aviation industries. While perhaps not as strong, it is extremely lightweight and thus perfect for applications where every gram counts. With an eye on those applications, Russian aluminum expert UC Rusal has just announced that they will be working with German machine tool developer Sauer GmbH to pioneer new aluminum 3D printing powders and solutions.
As industry experts doubtlessly know, Sauer is actually part of German firm DMG Mori AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT – a manufacturer of metal cutting tools that is currently paving the way in subtractive metal processing and additive metal 3D printing. Just a few months ago, DMG Mori revealed that they had begun using a LASERTEC hybrid 3D printer and CNC mill to produce parts for Porsche racing cars. The company further revealed that metal 3D printing is rapidly becoming a core part of the DMG Mori enterprise, both creatively and financially. In 2015, the company’s additive manufacturing products and services resulted in a turnover of 70 million euros, a figure expected to rise to 100 million euros this year.
Perhaps this new agreement can be seen in the light of those developments. According to Rusal, they signed a memorandum with Sauer with the express purpose of developing industrial 3D printing solutions for aluminum (and its alloys). Specifically, they are doing so with an eye on the machinery-producing, aerospace, and automotive sectors.
As part of this collaboration, Rusal will develop aluminum alloy powders, which can subsequently be tested by Sauer. Both firms will further conduct quality assessments of the raw aluminum, aluminum alloys and powders, while Sauer will realize new production platforms and equipment. Both companies will also advertise any new products and technologies among their client base.
As Rusal revealed, this collaboration will pave the way for them to enter the 3D printing market – which they see as a key target for the future. “The key benefit of 3D printing technology is its ability to make industrial parts of any shape and complexity that cannot be produced using conventional means. With this technology, we can produce unique prototypes over a very short period of time. Also, the technology is practically waste-free,” Rusal’s director for new projects Alexey Arnautov revealed. “Rusal is very strong in R&D and manufacturing in aluminum powders, and by combining our efforts with DMG Mori, the largest manufacturer of hybrid 3D additive manufacturing machines in the world, to expand industrial use of the 3D technology, we hope to become a leading global player in this sector.” It looks like 3D printable aluminum alloys could become much more common in the near future.