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HRL Laboratories is First to Register New 3D-Printed Aluminum Alloy

HRL Laboratories
Additively manufactured high-strength aluminum parts. (Photo: HRL Laboratories.)

HRL Laboratories, LLC in Malibu, California, obtained the first ever registration of an additive aluminum alloy from the Aluminum Association. The new “purple sheets” — the first new material registration record in nearly 20 years — will provide clear chemical designations for aluminum powder used in 3D printing.

The company will be granted registration number 7A77.50 for the aluminum powder used to additively manufacture the alloy, and number 7A77.60L for the printed alloy. “Essentially, this will connect us to this particular alloy composition forever,” said Hunter Martin, the lead scientist on the HRL team that created the alloy. “These alloy numbers will always be trackable back to HRL, like a DNA signature. When I first contacted the Aluminum Association about registering our alloy, they did not have a way to register alloys printed from powders, so they decided to create a new system for registration of additively manufactured materials – a first in the materials space.”

HRL addressed the challenge of 3D-printing aluminum alloys — including Al7075 or AL6061 — by using a nanoparticle functionalization technique, which decorates high-strength unweldable alloy powders with specially selected zirconium hydride nanoparticles.

“We’re in the process of commercializing this material, which is already in high demand,” said Zak Eckel, another HRL team member. “As we scale up to commercial levels, AA registration validates our product. Companies who want the powder for their 3D printers can ask for its specific number, and it becomes a true commercial alloy.”

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