August 7, 2020
The ExOne Company reports that the nickel-based alloy Inconel 718 has been certified as Third-Party Qualified, the company’s highest designation of material readiness for its metal 3D printers.
Frequently used in the aerospace, energy and automotive industries, Inconel 718 is known for high strength and hardness, with strong resistance to corrosion, chemicals and extreme temperatures ranging from sub-zero to 1300°F. It also has welding characteristics, and is often used for high-temperature applications, such as jet engines and tooling, or corrosive environments, such as those featuring seawater or acids.
“Today’s qualification of Inconel 718, following on the heels of M2 Tool Steel earlier this year, shows the ExOne R&D team is aggressively delivering new materials for binder jet 3D printing,” says Rick Lucas, ExOne CTO and VP, New Markets. “Our increasing pace of material qualifications is a testament to the strength of our new metal 3D printer systems equipped with Triple ACT, an advanced compaction technology that is essential for binder jetting metals and other materials at high speeds and densities.”
As is the case with Inconel 718, ExOne’s Triple ACT enables 3D printing of standard MIM powders, followed by standard sintering profiles and heat treatments, that deliver high-density results consistent with wrought material. Independent testing verifies that Inconel 718 3D printed and sintered by ExOne meets ASTM standard B637-18.
“ExOne can now transition R&D materials to full qualification as demand increases,” Lucas notes.
ExOne Material Qualification Levels
ExOne has three tiers of material qualification, to signify the varying levels of readiness of materials for binder jet 3D printing applications: R&D, Customer-Qualified and Third-Party Qualified.
Previously, ExOne had recognized Inconel 718 as an R&D material, which meant it had been deemed printable for researchers, supported by ongoing development. The new Third-Party Qualified status means that the material has passed rigorous ExOne tests over multiple builds and has verified material property data from an independent third party.
Customer-Qualified materials are those that have been qualified by ExOne customers with their own standards and are being successfully printed today for their own applications. However, they have not yet earned ExOne’s highest level of qualification for general market readiness.
ExOne has a roadmap to qualify new materials based on customer demand, and frequently works with major manufacturers to develop new materials to suit specific applications.
To date, 22 metal, ceramic and composite materials are now Third-Party or Customer-Qualified. The full list is available here.
Additionally, more than two-dozen materials are recognized as R&D ready, including aluminum, which has been fast-tracked for qualification.
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.