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In September 2017, a HRL Laboratories team published a paper announcing that they had succeeded in 3D printing a traditionally non-weldable, high-strength aluminum alloy. A feat of ingenuity, the team functionalized an incredibly crack-prone material with average yield strengths up to 580 MPa. Two years later, the material used by HRL in this experiment became the first additive manufacturing aluminum alloy registered with the historic Aluminum Association.
Known as Aluminum 7A77.60L, this metal powder for 3D printing is now available to buy directly from HRL.
Material - Market - HRL - HRL - Goal
By commercially releasing the material to the market, HRL has now achieved what it set out to do: “HRL’s goal in developing materials has always been to make sure designers have the opportunity to use the highest performing materials possible,” explains Hunter Martin, PhD, Chief Metallurgist at HRL Laboratories.
“7A77 IS THE STRONGEST ADDITIVE ALUMINUM ON THE MARKET AND PROVIDES UNMATCHED DESIGN FREEDOM.”
HRL - Laboratories - Research - Facility - Development
Founded in 1948, HRL Laboratories is a research facility dedicated to advancing the development of microelectronics, information & systems sciences, materials, sensors, and photonics. It is currently co-owned by General Motors Corporation and Boeing.
Aluminum 7A77.60L has been in the making at HRL since 2014. Taking Al-7075, one of the most commonly used aluminium alloys for high-stress structural applications, HRL researchers sought to create a 3D printable version that could expand the material’s application across high value sectors including aerospace, automotive and oil & gas.
Al-7075 - Ductility - Strength - Toughness - Resistance
Al-7075 has good ductility, high strength, toughness, good resistance to fatigue and excellent corrosion resistance. However, these properties come with a heightened susceptibility to embrittlement, making it difficult to melt or process with a laser. This was the first challenge addressed by the team at HRL. However, Martin explains, successful 3D printing “was only the first part” of the process.
“Wrought alloys have had a century to develop all...
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