3D printing is one of the most innovative production techniques for the industrial production of metal parts. A Hamburg-based company is revolutionizing this future technology with innovative aluminum alloys for outstanding performance.

The challenge: Aluminum powders for 3D printing

3D printing is on the rise. The technology is ideal for prototypes, one-offs, small batches and complex metal components that are difficult or even impossible to realize using traditional techniques.

Aluminum powder is used for particularly light, high-strength parts. But although aluminum is the world’s number 1 lightweight material, for a long time there was no aluminum powder that was really suitable for 3D printing. Therefore, the development of new high-performance aluminum alloys for 3D printers is a vital growth factor for this production technology.

Solution: New aluminum for new applications

When it comes to the development of 3D printing processes, the Hamburg Metropolitan Region is one of the world’s leading locations. Hamburg-based Fehrmann GmbH has been involved in the production of components made of cast aluminum for more than 60 years and is closely networked with Hamburg’s scientific community.

The company has been able to combine decades of experience in the development of high-performance aluminum alloys with the requirements of modern 3D printing. In cooperation with scientific institutions such as the Helmholtz Center for Material Research in Geesthacht, the Fraunhofer Institute for Additive Production Technologies (IAPT) in Hamburg, the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) as well as the Center for High Performance Materials (ZHM) at the Hamburg Technical University (TUHH), Fehrmann was able to develop a range of special aluminum alloys. These include the world’s first corrosion-resistant high-performance alloy especially for 3D printing.

The company already started with 3D printing back in 2006 and quickly realized that the available aluminum powders are only standard alloys that are of limited use in additive manufacturing processes. That’s why managing director Henning Fehmarn founded his own center in 2012 for the development of high-performance aluminum alloys. “3D printing processes were developed by mechanical engineers,” says Fehrmann, adding: “For a long time there was nobody involved in materials technology. We wanted to fill this gap. ”

The basic contradictory characteristics with aluminum are strength and ductility. Fehrmann solves this problem holistically: When developing aluminum alloys, the company integrates the alloying and the production process, including the atomization of the powder and the process properties of additive production technologies. The result is tailor-made aluminum powder with exactly the properties that customers need for their specific applications.

Potential: Driving tomorrow’s lightweight construction

Lightweight constructions not only save material and thus resources. They also reduce weight, allowing for the construction of vehicles that use less fuel and have lower emissions. Additive production processes and aluminum are the decisive combination, enabling completely new possibilities in lightweight construction.

With its aluminum alloys specially developed for the 3D printing of aluminum components, Fehrmann has developed into an important driving force for the development of the lightweight construction of tomorrow.

Aluminum for CD printing
in Numbers

60 %
lighter than steel, aluminum stands for lightweight construction par excellence
8 %
annual increase of aluminum production
47 %
growth per year of 3D printing

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