Using technologies from Equispheres and Xact Metal, a team from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) has expanded its repertoire to include aluminum additive manufacturing, demonstrating that metal AM can be accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses, academia, and research facilities.
Using Equispheres’ NExP-1 AM powder, with its safer storage and handling characteristics, researchers at SDU have successfully printed aluminum parts using Xact Metal’s high-quality, low-cost XM200G metal 3D printer. The benefits of additive manufacturing are within reach of more organizations through this combination of a purpose-designed powder for metal AM and printing machinery that aims to make 3D printing more accessible.
“Barriers to the expansion of metal AM are falling. This project illustrates that there are options that make additive manufacturing available to producers wherever, whenever it makes sense for a particular application,” said Evan Butler-Jones, vice president of product and strategy at Equispheres.
A team at SDU came up with the concept and design for this project several years ago, but it wasn’t until Equispheres introduced its NExP-1 AM powder in 2022 that the group felt confident to proceed. Unlike most aluminum powders, Equispheres’ NExP-1 is characterized as non-explosible and non-combustible, offering a less hazardous option for production 3D printing. It opened the door for SDU to begin working with aluminum for additive manufacturing.
“This project was our first attempt at printing reactive powders,” said Andrei-Alexandru Popa, additive manufacturing lead and assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark. “The safer handling characteristics of Equispheres’ NExP-1 powder made us feel more comfortable using aluminum powder in a university lab setting. After much preparation and support from our friends at Xact Metal and Equispheres, we stepped into uncharted territory — 3D printing NExP-1 aluminum on an XM200G printer. We are the first to try this combination of hardware and feedstock, and I’m thrilled that our success will add another bit of knowledge to the additive manufacturing universe.”
The project emphasizes Xact Metal’s drive to make metal additive manufacturing more accessible and affordable to a broader range of users.
“We aim to empower the next generation by making the capabilities of powder-bed fusion 3D printing available to companies of all sizes. Equispheres shares similar goals to foster the enablement of AM by overcoming current barriers, and we are glad to see the success of Equisphere’s unique material on the Xact Metal XM200G at SDU, ” said Juan Mario Gomez, CEO of Xact Metal.
SDU’s Andrei-Alexandru Popa presented the details of this successful combination of technologies on November 8th on the Technology Stage Formnext. During the presentation sponsored by Xact Metal and Equispheres, attendees learned how the university leveraged accessible AM equipment and non-explosible aluminum powder to build aluminum AM capabilities at their facilities to better support their industry partners.
“The positive results experienced by Andrei-Alexandru and the team at SDU are consistent with what we’ve seen with industrial, multi-laser printers using NExP-1,” said Butler-Jones. “NExP-1 retains the best characterisitics of a high-performance AlSi10Mg aluminum powder — faster print speeds and consistent mechanical properties — plus it makes equipment clean-up quicker and easier.”
Equispheres’ innovative metal powder technology allows the company to precisely manipulate powder characteristics and morphology, to design aluminum powder specifically for volume AM applications.
University of Southern Denmark