Indian Steel Giant ArcelorMittal Partners with Materialise for Metal 3D Printing

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Materialise and ArcelorMittal Powders have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Arcelor will use Materialise’s Build Processor to power printers, and the two companies will collaborate on settings, parameters, and the optimization of parts made with Arcelor powders. They aim to reap efficiencies for users, optimize build strategies, and improve part quality.

“Our collaboration with Materialise supports our vision that the key to success in additive manufacturing is about finding the right blend of digital instructions and steel powders to deliver the best balance of quality and productivity in an application. Whether developing new applications with new alloys or proving the feasibility of new designs for existing applications through steel additive manufacturing, Materialise offers us a formidable channel to bring build instructions straight to the heart of a 3D printer,” said Aubin Defer, Chief Marketing Officer at ArcelorMittal Powders.

“Our collaboration with ArcelorMittal marks a significant milestone in advancing our shared vision. By enhancing processes and solutions, we aim to expand the applications and industries utilizing additive manufacturing. This partnership brings us closer to a future where 3D printing achieves its full potential, enabling both mass customization and large-scale production,” said Udo Eberlein, Vice President of Software at Materialise.

ArcelorMittal Powders recently introduced its AdamIQ line of steel powders to the additive market, catering exclusively to the powder bed, binder jet, and DED markets. The company currently offers maraging steel, tool steels, 316L, 17-4PH, and the more uncommon 430L grade. The last grade is a low carbon ferritic steel, which ArcelorMittal says is perfect for brake discs. The company maintains that these steels “can also be used in new technologies such as hard coating of brake discs to reduce particle emissions, helping automotive OEMs and Tier Ones to comply with the Euro 7 regulation.”

Soon, the firm hopes to offer a cobalt-free M300 and a highly ductile triplex steel. ArcelorMittal’s deep steel specialization should lead to some new products, which is very exciting. The company has an impressive lab in Avilés, Spain, and I am curious to see what will come out of it. Additionally, ArcelorMittal is willing to co-develop solutions. They are open to creating unique alloys, atomizing on demand, characterizing parts, and even helping with DfAM.

Working together like this should help ArcelorMittal or Materialise customers adopt new materials more quickly. Moreover, by intertwining and optimizing material and machine settings, they could increase the yield of machines. Optimizing settings for a certain powder could lead to lower-cost parts, fewer failed builds, and better overall economics. In the future, such an approach could also make it more likely that a large company will consider making or commissioning its own 3D printers for specific manufacturing tasks. This could lead to a more straightforward commoditization of powder bed fusion. For binder jet, it may lead to faster adoption for many currently exploring the technology.

It’s nice to have a heavyweight like ArcelorMittal enter the market. The steel specialization should lead to special powders and applications. It’s great to see enthusiasm for cars, for example. The firm’s fascination with brake discs could help accelerate that overlooked but potentially interesting application in steel brake discs. Additionally, the firm’s enthusiasm for tooling, which is seeing real growth, is promising. ArcelorMittal already does business with many industrial, construction, and manufacturing firms, so they could really help push manufacturing in those sectors.

Ideally, of course, you’d also see some input from one of the machine OEMs here, but perhaps the two are trying to stay neutral or hope to work with everyone. Are we going to see more collaboration here as well? Or are we seeing a push for advanced users to take more control over the machine? We know that a lot of advanced users are looking more towards very particular, even peculiar, settings for just their applications, parts, or key performance areas. Such a move could be really impactful for them.

On the whole, I believe that the most important outcome of this collaboration could be that ArcelorMittal can approach industrial firms and say, “Dear BMW, if you use our powder and this Materialise Build Processor with your current machines, they will run 20% faster than competitor powder. Once we help you industrialize this application, we feel that we can make high-performance brake disks at a price that, thanks to us, works.” That would be amazing and would really accelerate 3D printing.

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