A team of CSIRO researchers led by Dr Robert Wilson have developed an innovative wire extrusion process for turning inexpensive alloy waste into a high value wire product suitable for additive manufacturing.
Using low-cost titanium alloy particulates like machining swarf, the team was able to produce a low-cost titanium wire that can be used to make complex 3D-printed parts for markets such as aerospace, biomedical, defence, marine, automotive, construction and consumer goods.
The result is a product that is significantly cheaper than titanium wire made by conventional processes,” Dr Wilson said.
The global market for titanium wire is estimated to be worth more than A$200 million.
Director of the Australasian Wire Industry Association, Richard Newbigin, said there was a lucrative market for 2.5mm to 3mm titanium wire as feed for this type of wire-additive manufacturing, adding that the cheaper wire generated from recycled sources could also be used to produce metal powders for 3D printing.
“Currently, Australian additive manufacturers have to source their titanium wire offshore, but this new capability will change that,” Mr Newbigin noted.
CEO of additive manufacturing company Amaero International, Barrie Finnin, said locally produced titanium alloy wire and powders could open up a myriad of opportunities for Australia’s growing additive manufacturing sector.
“This technology has the potential to put Australia on the map as a competitive supplier of aerospace grade titanium alloy wire for additive manufacturing and will greatly impact on our global competitiveness,” Mr Finnin stated.
“Even better, the end product will be comparable to what is currently available overseas, but much cheaper because it is using waste product.”