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Aluminum 3D Printing with ValCUN’s Molten Metal Deposition

Metal News - Published on Mon, 22 Jun 2020

Image Source: 3D Print
Whereas 3D printing has traditionally been used to make a lot of high-end parts in which weight saving and the texture or form make a high-value 3D-printed part worthwhile, lower costs would greatly increase the number of parts made industrially with 3D printing. Belgium based ValCUN is one of a new wave of firms that are trying to make metal 3D printing more affordable. Rather than producing thousands of parts for aircraft, spacecraft, and orthopedics, these firms are hoping to fabricate millions of parts for industry. ValCUN was started specifically to meet the opportunity for more quotidian parts, avoiding lasers and powder to, as the company claims, be able to work with any feedstock. For now, the company is focused on aluminum. The company has even touted being able to use scrap metal and even cans. It also says that it is an order of magnitude less capital intensive than existing powder technologies and has high build rates: comparable to welding or WAAM. The small team is based in Ghent and has worked on making affordable metal printing for over four years.

One of the first public pronouncements about their capabilities concerns the idea of manufacturing a heat exchanger element for insulated-gate bipolar transistors. in that case, the example was made up of three IGBTs featuring a generative design that increased cooling performance by 40%. Manufacturing 100.000 coolers with metal additive manufacturing technology known as SLM would not be possible within two years on one machine and would cost more than €100 per part. Combining diecasting with ValCUN’s AM technology makes it possible to produce this batch in 6 months at a unit price of a factor three to five times less.

The technology works through extruding preheated molten metal onto a workpiece that is heated through electric current which creates plasma jet. This plasma jet heats the surface onto which the molten material will be deposited, exactly where it will be deposited. Through precise preheating and use of the plasma, the new layer is then fused with the existing layer.

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Posted By : Nishith Sharma on Mon, 22 Jun 2020
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