DiscoveryThe A20X™ Story
The A20X™ Story
A20X™ is owned and ditributed by Aluminium Materials Technologies Ltd. The alloy was first developed by Aeromet International, a UK based foundary business, in the 1990s because they needed to overcome the challenges associated with casting A201. The high strength of A201 made it popular for aerospace and advanced engineering applications. However, this aluminium-copper alloy was prone to hot tearing and shrinkage porosity when cast into complex shapes.
Therefore, by coupling the metallurgical expertise of Aeromet with noted British based univerisity research, the company benefited from targeted development projects. Researching the affects of different alloying elelements, and solidification mechanisms led to the discovery of this entirely unique aluminium alloy, branded A20X™ and assigned new alloy designations by the Aluminum Association in 2010.
Exploring PotentialThe A20X™ Story
A20X™ is based on the aluminium-copper system, and also include magnesium and silver to aid strengthening and castability. However, it has been the addition of titanium diboride ceramic particles that has taken the potential of this high strength aluminium alloy to new levels. The complex metallurgy in the alloy is the result of unique solidification mechanisms, and this is true for both cast and additive manufactured (AM) parts. The ultra-fine microstructures, when compared to either conventionally cast aluminium or other as-built aluminium alloys, are truly in a class of their own. As a result, A20X™ is the strongest aluminium casting alloy in the world and is amongst the strongest commercially available additive manufactured aluminium alloys. However, it is the ability to operate at temperatures beyond other aluminium alloys that will allow you to explore its true potential.
Aerospace ApprovalThe A20X™ Story
This unique alloy, first patented in 1999 in its original form, and later re-patented in 2014 and in over 30 countries, has been aimed from the beginning at meeting the requirements of the aerospace sector.
The high strength and advanced high temperature properties of the alloy, coupled with the inherent light weight of aluminium make it an ideal choice for aerospace applications.
To enable the use as a fully aerospace approved alloy the company has worked with the authorities and SAE to gain the FAA MMPDS approval along with the following specifications AMS4471, for investment casting, and AMS4482, for sand casting, in 2012. This then provides the benchmark for design engineers to work with the alloy. In addition, A20X™ has been approved on a customer specific basis by aerospace OEMs including Boeing.
Aerospace ProductionThe A20X™ Story
The fully approved A20X™ alloy has been licensed to a global network of casting suppliers. These specialist companies are all capable of producing parts for aerospace and advanced engineering applications. This network includes foundries in Europe, North America and the Middle East.
A20X™ cast parts are now in production for high strength, high temperature applications in aerospace, such as structural parts and engine components. The unique characteristics of A20X™ open up new possibilities for cast parts, often allowing significant cost and weight reductions to be achieved.
The take up by the AM sector has also been focussed within the aerospace sector, and several exciting and innovative developments have already made it to production scale activities. New engine components, energy management components, and even structural parts are also in stages of being developed for AM serial production within the global aerospace industry.
A20X™ PowderThe A20X™ Story
A20X™ has since been produced as a powder since 2015 for use in metal additive manufacturing. The Aluminum Association recognised alloy powder was first qualified in laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) applications, and is now endorsed by all notable AM machine vendors. A20X™ is offered by several world renowed AM service providers. LPBF system users are not required to apply any special process meassures, like pre-heating build platforms, to produce crack-free, fully dense as-built components. A20X™ powder has produced AM parts with tensile strengths exceeding 500MPa, and well above 10% elongation.
However, there is potential to unlock further uses of the alloy powder, and application with directed energy deposition (DED) technologies is also the focus of on-going developments.
Future DevelopmentsThe A20X™ Story
Further development work is ongoing, like with sheet, extrusions and wire forms.
A20X™ is a proven to be suitable for welding so it can be used without fillers or other alloys to carry out welded joints and repairs on cast parts. The potential to exploit this capability in AM, such as with the Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing technique, or laser based wire AM technologies, is the driving force behind new product development.
However, the story of A20X™ does not stop there, and the metallurgists at Aluminium Materials Technologies are ever seeking to further develop and enhance the product family that can be achieved under the patented alloy compositions.
Keep checking back for the next chapter!