Metalysis welcomes Australian Mines to scandium additive manufacturing powder production

UK metal powder producer Metalysis has given an
update on the progress of its ongoing aluminum-scandium alloy
R&D program. Launched to fulfill material demand in core
value scandium sectors, such as advanced and additive
manufacturing, the project is now in its second year.

According to the official program update, the past 12 months
have “affirmed the view that Metalysis’ process could address
challenges that have historically restricted the industrial use
of scandium despite its excellent properties.”

Furthermore, “High value AlSc alloy continues to pose excellent
launch product potential for Metalysis’ Generation 4 industrial
plant.”

Why scandium?

With a high strength to weight ratio, AlSc alloy is a material
that presents great potential to aerospace and automotive
applications. Through subsidiary APWorks, leading aerospace
company Airbus has in fact created its own aluminum-scandium
alloy (Scalmalloy) which contains magnesium, and is piopularly
showcased in the
Lightrider motorcycle
.

But, as a material short in supply, there remains a
heightened demand for scandium alloys
, especially those
compatible with specialist processes like additive
manufacturing.

3D printing is the perfect partner for AlSc part production, as
it results in little material wastage, and can heighten the
alloy’s natural lightness.

High purity scandium samples and a remelted scandium cube for comparison. Photo via Alchemist-hp/Wikimedia CommonsHigh purity scandium
samples and a remelted scandium cube for comparison. Photo via
Alchemist-hp/Wikimedia Commons

Aluminum-scandium progress


Metalysis’ AlSc alloy R&D program
was first announced
in 2017, at which time the company announced an industrial
partner that would be helping to create a scandium-rich master
alloy.

In the second half of 2017 (Phase I), Metalysis completed
production of an AlSc master alloy, using its patented
technology that extracts alloys from an oxide rather than the
bulk metal.

A “Generation 1” technology, the master alloy has been
initially produced in grams. It is reportedly “more than 15X
higher in scandium content than the commonly available 2wt%
scandium master alloy” and also,  by comparison, made more
cost-effectively.

Now in Phase II, the company has begun the process of
qualifying scandium oxide as a source for AlSc feedstock, in an
effort to “address global production and supply concerns.”
Metalysis expects this phase to stretch through the second half
od 2018.

Australian Mines partnership

The Australian
Mine
s resource company, concerned with the pursuit of world
class scandium assets for the global market, joins Metalysis in
Phase II R&D.

Through the flagship Sconi Project, Australin Mines will be
providing scandium oxide mined in northern Queensland for
feedstock evaluation.

Metalysis metal powder. Photo via the companyMetalysis metal powder.
Photo via the company

Commercial production of powders

First licensed for production in 2014, Metalysis is now in what
it called “Generation 4” production, a stage where its
patented  Fray, Farthing, Chen (FFC) method has been
proven to produce 10s of tonnes of material.

A part of this development, the company opened
its Materials
Discovery Center
 in 2017, and has since raised £12
million (approx. $16.07 million) to help the center’s expansion
to meet Gen 4 commercialization.

The next stage, “Generation 5,” is distributed production, will
focus on 100s – 1,000s tonnes’ production and is scheduled from
2018 onward.

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Featured image shows Metalysis metal powder sample. Photo
via Metalysis.

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