Research collaboration to strengthen welding wire composition


Sample Aluminium part printed with WAM®, Source: AML3D

In a $600,000 research partnership between AML3D Limited and Deakin University, supported through the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), experts are developing high strength aluminium – scandium welding wire for Wire Additive Manufacturing (WAM®) applications.

AML3D, a pioneer in commercialising Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM), has teamed up with the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) at Deakin University, to investigate the effect of scandium as a strengthening element for existing aluminium wire feedstock for 3D printing and welding applications, with the potential to commercialise. As part of the 12-month research collaboration, IFM researchers will create and road-test new alloy compositions that will deliver high strength, corrosion resistant WAAM structures, using AML3D’s WAM® technology.

Dr Thomas Dorin, who leads the research at Deakin’s IFM, highlights that most aluminium alloys obtain their strength via additional heat treatments which can be costly and not always practical when using WAM® technology.

“When you add scandium to aluminium, it acts as an ‘excellent strengthener’. Our preliminary research has shown that aluminium-scandium forms strengthening AI3Sc particles during WAM® and create as-printed high-strength structures with limited need for subsequent heat treatment.”

“Also, scandium is electrochemically neutral with aluminium. The new WAM® structures are thus expected to be more corrosion resistant compared to the ones created with existing welding wires,” says Dr Dorin.

AML3D is currently trialling various aluminium-scandium compositions for a range of industry use cases. The success of the trials will enable many new applications for its WAM® technology, with the automotive, resources (mining, oil & gas) and broader transport industries (such as shipbuilding) showing strong interest in high strength aluminium products.