South Australian company AML3D (ASX: AL3) has announced two collaborative feasibility projects with Melbourne’s Deakin University exploring the incorporation of boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) to revolutionise its wire additive manufacturing (WAM) technology.
The studies will be conducted at Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials and will explore two new techniques for incorporating BNNTs into aluminium in the context of WAM, with a view to fast-tracking commercialisation of the process.
The proposed composite is expected to have far-reaching implications for 3D metal printing on a global scale.
BNNTs are the world’s strongest and most advanced fibre, with the capacity to greatly enhance the properties of WAM-deposited alloys.
The addition of BNNTs to aluminium and other metals can create stronger and lighter metals (up to 100 times the strength of steel and 30 times stronger than kevlar), with up to 7.5 times greater thermal conductivity and an ability to withstand temperatures over 900 degrees Celsius.
It can also significantly expand the range of applications for WAM technology in AML3D’s key industry sectors of space, aerospace, marine, defence and transport.
AML3D managing director Andrew Sales said the projects would be an opportunity to develop “novel and transformative products” with far-reaching implications for WAM and the greater 3D metal printing industry.
“The success of ongoing high-strength alloy developments for our patented WAM process has identified a significant commercial opportunity for us to incorporate BNNT into our wire feedstock,” he said.
“Successful development of these particular alloys has the potential to provide [us] with significant upside … the opportunities for products and components has applications across all our target sectors and the potential to add another game-changing opportunity for AML3D.”
Mr Sales said existing BNNT research had identified enhanced properties of the nanomaterial and provides a step towards widespread commercial adoption.
“With improving global production capacity and falling per unit production costs, BNNTs are anticipated to revolutionise the advanced materials market,” he said.
“We are excited to spearhead this emerging technology with 3D metal printing to further the competitive advantage of our WAM technology.”