AM rehabilitates denser, stronger materials - enabling high-performance, compact products. Instead of a wide range of different products optimised for each market sector, we just have one. for how this applies to the market for hydraulic servo valves. Thats a big reason why it is more expensive than other metals. Denser materials generally require more energy to melt each layer and so volume build rates can be slower, but the mass build rates of denser materials are generally higher. So, is it time to give less fashionable materials like steel another chance?
Titanium is often the material of choice for light-weight structural additive manufacturing (AM) components. Shapes can be organic, walls can be thinner and structures can be hollow or lattice-filled. Image above - market segmentation for products made with subtractive manufacturing. In a head-to-head comparison, if you need something with impressive strength that can tolerate a high friction environment, 7075 makes the most sense. (0.13mm). Combining AM and Ti in one step is now a 760g weight saving, but only 1/5 of this was from the material change, at probably >5x the price. This chart provides a technical overview of the types of aluminum and titanium we offer for DMLS and machining. Furthermore, limitations in where cutting tools can reach often mean that material is too expensive to remove, and so it remains on the component, adding unwelcome mass. When we have exhausted even these techniques and we have to carry around more material than we would ideally like, it had better not be dense. Using powder means you end up with virtually no waste metal. Domin has chosen maraging steel to produce innovative valve bodies and spools that are able to withstand high hydraulic pressure in an ultra-compact package. If you need a prototype part quickly, aluminum stands out for its low cost and high quality. Additive manufacturing opens up new possibilities, making it possible to realise near-ideal part designs. Aluminums low specific gravity (2.7 g/cm3) means that its considerably lighter than counterparts such as steel, which is about three times as heavy. A higher specific strength means that we require less component mass to deliver the required load-bearing capability. If we can streamline or eliminate downstream finishing, assembly, inspection and testing processes, then this also moves the curve. Moreover, rather than absorb heat, titanium likes to reflect it, so youll find it in low-E windows, bouncing back warming infrared rays from the sun. In terms of appearance, titaniums color varies depending on how much it has been altered. Many conventional manufacturing processes are limited in the intricacy and detail of what they can produce, and so they cannot always be used to produce the most weight-efficient designs. So, if our conventional part has to be bulkier than we would like it to be, then a low-density material is a must. Titanium parts have additional cost implications because they are difficult to machine. The bottom line when machining aluminum: If low weight, high tolerance to heat, and high strength are key, 7075 is the way to go. By contrast, the cheapest way to make a part from a processing cost standpoint will involve a quick forming process and minimal machining. Material selection is critical to designing and making a successful AM product. Because of this, engineers often choose to manufacture prototypes using aluminum, then switch to titanium for production parts. Image above - factors affecting the cost-v-mass curve for an AM part. Ti needs AM, the reverse is not true. Readers may also want to read Martin McMahon's article The status quo of metal alloys for additive manufacturing to gain an overview of the metallurgy and properties of commonly used AM materials. CNC milling and turning are time-tested ways to manufacture aluminum and titanium parts. Many industrial products are used in multiple market sectors - they perform the same basic function and there will generally be common requirements such as performance and reliability that all sectors expect.
Titaniums corrosion resistance and lack of reactivity makes it the most biocompatible metal, so its great in medical applications, such as surgical instrumentation. The idea of using a denser material to meet specifications while still maintaining required strength and cost effectiveness through AM redesign is well explained. One factor you might not think about when choosing material is machining waste. Titanium is often described as being as strong as steel but much less dense. Spoiler alert: the answer is 'yes', but it may not be the steel that you're thinking of. Within your quote, you can also adjust quantity and material and see price changes in real-time. The most weight-sensitive customers pay the most for the lightest product, whilst other sectors are more cost-driven. The optimum point from a cost perspective will be found between these extremes. Struggling with thermoplastic material shortages?
Innovation in alloys that deliver even higher performance than the current exotics, or strong properties at a lower cost point, will open up even more possibilities. I am not implying that we should always select maraging steel for every high strength application. Moreover, while manufacturing costs are somewhat higher using DMLS, the parts deliver value through the combination of strength and weight reduction. The relatively high cost of titanium can price AM parts out of more cost-sensitive markets. It has mechanical properties similar to Ti grade 23 annealed and has exceptional tensile strength. However, machining is somewhat limited in terms of geometries, so extremely complex designs require a different solution such as DMLS, no matter what material you choose. The cost of mass comprises two elements, the first of which is the raw material cost. But when we look at a wider selection of materials, we see some potential rivals. The chart below shows the tensile strengths and densities of a range of alloys that are commonly used in laser powder-bed fusion (LPBF). These exhibit a broad range of strengths, with the strongest being a maraging steel that is often referred to as M300 or 1.2709. Naturally, so do aluminum and titanium. But is it always the right material when we want to build high-strength parts with minimal mass? Visitwww.renishaw.com/amguidefor more education resources and to access downloadable versions of LinkedIn articles by Renishaw authors. While milling away excess material is fine for inexpensive aluminum, its not ideal for pricey titanium. Using 3D printing or CNC machining, these two metals have proven to be incredibly versatile for parts across a range of industries. So, titanium has a lot to recommend it. But this is likely to leave a lot of extra material on the part, and so the material cost starts to become more significant. Titanium clearly wins this contest easily. The diagonal orange line on the chart above is a specific strength contour passing through the Ti6Al4V data point. Image above - AM pioneers pursued weight reduction, but the economics of early AM processes meant that part costs were often high, making them unsuitable for more cost-sensitive applications. How does this affect our material choice? Using a fusing laser to weld powdered metal together, it forms parts, layer by layer. 7075s stronger properties make it ideal for molds for plastics and tooling, and aircraft frames. This saves assembly time and reduces your Bill of Materials (BOM). In these situations, it is the processing cost that dominates, although material costs may also rise if we choose an exotic alloy to help us to achieve our goal. Then we will look at the impact this this could have on product markets. To the right, we see the denser iron-, nickel- and cobalt-based alloys. Download our quick guide for a realistic snapshot of the surface finishes that are possible on machined plastic and metal parts. The disruptive impact of AM on a product market depends on to what extent we can make AM products that meet the needs of each these various market sectors. Both materials tick off other important boxes, such as excellent resistance to corrosion and tolerance for heat. This may have knock-on benefits in the rest of the product, enabling that to be smaller and lighter too. The cost-v-mass curve for additive manufacturing is quite different. The second element is processing costs, driven largely by the build time. Titanium is used in aircraft jet engines, for example, and in spacecraft, too. We are starting to use AM to make the metal parts. In subtractive manufacturing, the cost of a complex part and its weight are related in an interesting way. Steel really can be as light as titanium, and the compact, cost-effective AM products made from it could be even more disruptive. AM enables innovative product configurations and efficient designs, so products can be lighter, perhaps even lighter than the current minimum mass, which is why weight-sensitive sectors have been additive pioneers. DMLS is an additive manufacturing process.
Overmolding and Insert Molding Guidelines, The aluminum alloy used in our direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process, AlSi10Mg, Titanium vs Aluminum: Workhorse Metals for Machining and 3D Printing. In the case of titanium and maraging steel, either could do the job from a weight perspective, but the steel part could be smaller. While aluminum generally doesnt react to acids, it does tend to corrode in alkaline (basic) environments. If two materials have similar specific strengths but different densities (e.g. Titanium is also one of the most common metals on Earth, but its melting point is so high its difficult to process it into a usable product. For instance, aerospace customers will be looking for weight reduction and they attach a certain value to weight, so if we can make an AM part that falls into the blue region in the diagram below, then it should be attractive to them. Not necessarily. We can compare the suitability of these alloys for use in light-weight, high-strength applications by assessing their specific strength. The aluminum alloy used in the DMLS process adds silicon and magnesium, building parts with material properties exceeding their die-cast counterparts. In some market sectors, cost is the driver and not weight. The minimum overall cost is found when we find the best trade-off between processing complexity and material costs. With a tensile strength that can exceed 1,000 MPa after heat treatment, it is actually significantly stronger than austenitic stainless steels such as 316L, and yet it is roughly half as dense. These problems become more severe as part complexity rises. AM rehabilitates neglected materials by taking full advantage of their specific strength. However, we should not automatically use the same material that was chosen for a subtractive manufactured part when we come to build its AM replacement. Its strength and light weight reduce fuel costs. The impact of this could be profound. Maple Plain, MN 55359 United States P: 877.479.3680 F: 763.479.2679 E: [emailprotected]. But if we could make really light-weight parts out of a relatively inexpensive metal, then it might be possible to serve all market sectors with a single product. The thin layer of aluminum oxide that forms on it when exposed to air makes it essentially corrosion-free and its light weight helps keep your parts from acting like a boat anchor. Image above - relationship between unit cost and part mass for a complex subtractive manufactured component. The primary advantage to DMLS is that you can create parts with incredibly complex geometries, such as honeycombs and mesh-like structures. our quick guide for a realistic snapshot of the surface finishes that are possible on machined plastic and metal parts. Titanium is known for its strength andhas a high strength-to-weight ratio. We can place material just where we need it to fulfil the component's function, and we can omit it from areas where we don't. AM should be seen as mainstream manufacturing process and not just an alternative for complex metal cutting pricess. More specifically, 6061 is the choice for bicycle frames, SCUBA tanks, fishing reels, small boats, and vehicle frames. This guide includes high-quality photos of your surface finish options at Protolabs. To the left we see the low-density aluminium alloys, including the widely-used AlSi10Mg as well as higher strength formulations such as A20X and Scandium-Aluminium. To view or add a comment, sign in, Excellent post as usual Mr Saunders. Very low weight components are often very expensive, since the manufacturer must go to extreme lengths to remove any excess material, as we have discussed above. Points along this line exhibit an equal ratio of strength to density. It is easy to understand why the versatile Ti6Al4V alloy is perhaps the most commonly used material in metal AM. However, if we select a cost-effective material such as maraging steel, use a productive AM machine and minimise post-processing, then our cost-v-mass curve shifts. It can range from dull gray in raw form to shiny silver when smooth. It combines high strength with low density, making it invaluable for long-life, high-stress applications where weight is critical. Ive been of the view for a while that the benefits of AM and Ti have been conflated, and miss a key point for mass market use. I like how you also look into post processing costs, I would like to demonstrate that on the Polimotor. It also offers excellent corrosion resistance and equally poor electrical conductor. Limiting or removing the Co and Mo content in new maraging steels that are designed for additive manufacturing could further improve their cost advantage. Thanks to Marcus Pont and Andrew Collins from Domin Fluid Power for their insights and help in preparing this article. For others, space and weight are not at a premium, and cost is the prime driver. Aluminum machining is popular in the auto industry where lightweighting is key to improve fuel economy and minimize impact on performance, such as this tensioner for Litens Automotive. But they are never comparing with high strength steels like M300. In general, aluminum finds its way into aircraft and building materials, such as non-load-bearing framing. We touched on cost earlier and we will return to it now. It won't have escaped your notice that one other material - maraging steel - matches and even exceeds Ti6Al4V on this metric. Image above - the geometries that can be produced by machining are constrained, whereas AM gives us freedom to create organic shapes with internal features.
Nice article Marc! Get a realistic snapshot of the surface finishes that are possible on machined plastic and metal parts.
This question becomes more pertinent when part cost is a critical factor, since titanium powder typically costs around five times as much as some aluminium and steel powders. Image above - production build of servo valve bodies produced on RenAM 500Q industrial AM machine. The cost per kg of steel powder is relatively low, and so it has an advantage here. Similarly, the productivity and automation of our AM machine will govern how long it takes to build the part, whilst the purchase and running costs of the equipment will determine how much this time costs us, once again affecting the cost-v-mass curve. Is This the End of Different Fluid Power Products for Different Markets? Stress-bearing members may have to be solid due to the manufacturing process, when a lighter hollow structure would be preferable. Contact UsProto Labs, Inc. 5540 Pioneer Creek Dr. Part costs increase exponentially as we approach the minimum mass to achieve the part's function. Definitely an area to watch in the coming years. This design aid demonstrates part features that are too thin or too thick, bad bosses, right and wrong ribs, and other considerations to be mindful of while designing parts for injection molding. Simplistically, if one replaces a 1kg steel part like-for-like with Ti they can achieve a 40% reduction in weight: a 600g Ti part. Most material selection decisions require consideration of multiple properties, which may include stiffness, ductility, fatigue, creep, hardness, wear resistance, high temperature properties, corrosion resistance, thermal conductivity, bio-compatibility, embodied CO2, re-cyclability and more. Maraging steel's high specific strength, high density and low cost makes it particularly attractive. The steeper the contour, the higher the specific strength. Its often used for casting and is most similar to a 3000 series alloy, given the addition of magnesium as the principal alloying element.
Machining just cant match DMLSs design flexibility, regardless of which metal. If we work really hard on our product design and find more weight savings, then it might even be possible to move to a point where our ultra-lightweight product matches the minimum cost conventional product. Aluminum and titanium are both light, but for different reasons. By choosing the alloy with the highest specific strength, whatever its density, we can build the lightest part. AM parts take full advantage of these properties since they can be designed to provide the required strength with the minimum use of material. Post-processing costs also have a role to play. If our denser, stronger material only requires thin sections or small features to deliver the required performance, then that's fine. Product configuration and sales processes can be simplified, inventories can be reduced, servicing can be streamlined. This is clearly a simplistic analysis - we have only focused on tensile strength and cost. Similarly, where machining is used, the stiffness required to withstand cutting forces may limit how thin walls can be. So, a maraging steel part can be smaller and cheaper than an equivalent titanium part. Note: The following analysis is adapted from a Domin Fluid Power case study, Is This the End of Different Fluid Power Products for Different Markets? Plus, it provides a compelling blend of properties. At the other extreme, minimal processing will produce a heavier part, so material costs will rise. Thanks, Richard C.. My goal with this article was to get people thinking - there are many ways to be successful with AM. The aluminum alloy used in our direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process, AlSi10Mg, adds silicon and magnesium. Of course, this is just one possible cost-v-mass curve for AM. Whether we can do this depends on the relative position of the two cost-v-mass curves and how far down the AM curve we can move through good product design. We've added GD&T to our in-house first article inspections (FAIs) and process capability studies to give you an even more complete set of dimensional verification options. So, the cost of an AM part made from maraging steel will be lower than that of a part of similar mass made from titanium. Ti6Al4V and maraging steel), then the masses of the parts made from each material will be similar, although the designs will differ since the part made from the higher density alloy will have thinner sections and a smaller volume. The titanium used in our DMLS process is Ti 6Al4V, more commonly referred to as Ti 6-4. One advantage of 3D printing titanium that you might not have thought of has to do with titaniums cost. To get your next design project started today, simply upload a 3D CAD model for an interactive quote within hours. Materials with a higher specific strength will require less mass to bear a load. For instance, casting and forging processes require certain section thicknesses to allow the metal to flow during forming, constraining our ability to make parts as light as we might wish. For more details refer to Is This the End of Different Fluid Power Products for Different Markets? Proto Labs, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. With a melting point of about 3,000 degrees F (1,660 degrees C), when exposed to heat, it maintains its form better. For the most weight-critical applications we can deploy 5-axis machining using ball-nose cutters to whittle as much remaining material as we can reach, but this all adds to part costs. It is now possible to optimise the part design to suit our chosen alloy, using just the amount of material that we need. And added bonus? Ti 6-4 also holds up well to salty environments and is often used in marine applications. The cost of an AM part is made up as follows: For structural parts, the mass of function is the amount of material that is required to provide the required strength. Another insightful article Marc, often materials are said to be X many times stronger then steel. But expensive materials, long build times and costly post-processing and verification often meant that early AM products were positioned such that their appeal was limited to a few sectors. Because both materials offer high strength and low weight, its important to look at other differentiators when deciding which alloy to use for your parts. Indeed, if we plot the specific strengths of each material, we can see this clearly: So, it looks as though maraging steel could be used successfully in light-weight parts, but for this to work, it is vital that part volume is minimised. It has a long history in cast, wrought and forged forms, and so manufacturers have confidence in its suitability for a wide range of demanding applications. Aluminum is everywhereits the most common metal on the planet. DMLS lets you combine separate parts of assemblies into a single, strong part. Refer to Is This the End of Different Fluid Power Products for Different Markets? If you have any issues getting your guide, download here.
Where market sectors may differ, however, is in the value that they assign to product weight and size. After uploading your part design, you'll receive an online quote that includes manufacturing analysis to help improve part manufacturability. Parts can be multi-functional so that joints are eliminated and products can be made more compact. There is a virtuous circle in AM: Image above - additive and conventional manufacturing cost curve comparison. For some customers, the product must have the lightest possible weight and make the smallest possible space claim. We created a detailed guide to resin substitutes for ABS, PC, PP, and other commonly molded thermoplastics. To see why this matters, we first need to look at how the cost drivers of additive and subtractive components compare. In fact, you need a fraction of the amount of titanium to get the same physical strength you would get with aluminum. Great insight. If they replace the same subtractive steel part with an AM steel part, they might achieve a 60% reduction in weight: a 400g steel part. Now, switching to a Ti AM part vs the same steel AM part, the 40% weight saving represents just 160g extra vs the AM only 600g saving. For additional help, feel free to contact a Protolabs applications engineer at 877-479-3680 or [emailprotected]. The tendency to select low-density materials for light-weight parts has been driven to a large extent by manufacturing constraints. One of titaniums pluses is low thermal expansion. Injection Molding Material Alternatives Guide. If the forming process demands a volume that is larger than the ideal size, then this favours low-density materials over their stronger but denser counterparts. When you think of a dream team of material characteristics for parts, light weight and strength come to mind. The properties of 3D-printed aluminum exceed its die-cast counterpart except for lower elongation at break. Both these factors favour steel. Millions of us rely on titanium implants to keep our bodies working, whilst significant parts of efficient modern aircraft are built from the stuff. It gets more and more expensive to shave off each last gram of material. And if youre looking for a good electrical conductor, aluminum can do that. It has a great ability to transfer heat, which makes it excellent for heat sinks. Download this guide to explore the processes involved in creating sheet metal parts along with how to design common features and select the right material. The material cost of maraging steels has a fair way to fall as well, while the intrinsic cost of titanium will keep the price of those alloys high. The status quo of metal alloys for additive manufacturing. Readers may also find the following articles useful: To view or add a comment, sign in 6061 does better in welding applications, its easier to machine, and costs less. In some cases substitution may not be possible - when properties other than specific strength may have to be considered such as: corrosion, bio-compatibility., Well written insightful article.Additive manufacturing combined with design capabilities to create products created for additive manufacturing will lead to real advantage of AM. Its time to revisit design process to create designs optimised for Addtive Manufacturing. Although titanium is about two-thirds heavier than aluminum, its inherent strength means that you need less of it. The big difference between your two choices for machining aluminum has to do with the amount of copper in the alloy. In a market served by products made using conventional manufacturing processes, these customers will select different product variants from different positions on the cost-v-mass curve, as shown below. The processes are fastoften producing parts in less than a dayand they adhere to tolerances of +/- 0.005 in. It has developed a range of direct drive servo valves that are lighter than the best conventional products, and inexpensive enough to satisfy even the most cost-sensitive sectors. The right material for a subtractive manufactured part is not necessarily the best choice for an AM part. Boosting AM adoption - the next phase of market growth. Domin Fluid Power is a company that has put all of these principles into practice. Our choice of material will make a difference - a less expensive alloy will result in a flatter line. A typical cost-v-mass curve is shown below. Get this quick reference guide to explore your surface finish options across our six 3D printing technologies. As we have already seen, the cost of the material in the part and the processing costs are both directly related to part mass. A part built from 316L will be both larger and heavier than a equivalent titanium part.