The Additive Manufacturing industry is seeing increased demand for aluminum alloys, particularly in the motorsport market. Aluminum alloys offer high performance and lightweight, while handling high temperatures.
Produced using Additive Manufacturing with a process parameterized in BEAMIT, the 2024 RAM2C Aluminum alloy performs better at both room and high temperatures than other alloys currently in use, plus it is tough as well as lightweight. These characteristics make fit applications in the Motorsport and Automotive sectors for components like the suspension, parts of the chassis and structural parts of the powertrain.
The alloy processed with conventional technologies is commonly used for the structural parts of aircraft, but Additive Manufacturing opens up new horizons for the future of Aerospace design, enabling the production of lighter and higher performing structural parts which would bring down energy consumption and costs.
Until now, 2000 series Aluminum alloys, including 2024, were known in the AM world for their inability to be processed via Additive Manufacturing due to their composition. The elements in alloys (such as Copper, Zinc and Magnesium) solidify at completely different temperatures and it becomes difficult to melt them with a laser to create solid elements.
The first step of the project was in collaboration with Elementum 3D: choosing to print with Elementum 3D’s Al2024-RAM2C material, a 2000 series Aluminum alloy composition modified with the patented RAM additions. The toughest challenge was discovering the best process window for the alloy. BEAMIT Group’s R&D team took a multidisciplinary approach that resolved the problem.
Aluminum alloys necessarily need to be subjected to heat treatments to achieve maximum levels of mechanical performance, so a specific cycle was custom built for the 2024 RAM2C alloy. Varying the heat treatment can vary how the material performs. In addition to finding the solution for the alloy’s heat cycle, BEAMIT Group’s R&D team developed different post-printing processes so that customers can have modular solutions with custom properties.
BEAMIT Group Material and Special Processes Manager Alessandro Rizzi explains, “It is very difficult to process 2000 series Aluminum alloys via L-PBF so developing this material motivated us. Furthermore, the role of heat treatments became fundamentally important for Al2024 RAM2C and enabled us to experiment with different ones to find repeatable stable processes and guarantee maximum performance, including in-air and HIP-Q treatments.” In fact BEAMIT Group is currently working on parameterizing the high-pressure heat treatment process in collaboration with the subsidiary PRES-X, the innovative start-up that uses cutting-edge technologies for special post-production processes within BEAMIT Group.