Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM)

Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) is a manufacturing process used to 3D print or repair metal parts. It belongs to the Direct Energy Deposition (DED) family of Additive Manufacturing processes. WAAM is executed by depositing layers of metal on top of each other, until a desired 3D shape is created. It is a combination of two production processes: Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) and additive manufacturing. GMAW is a welding process used for joining metal parts using an electric arc, and additive manufacturing is the industrial term for 3D printing. The production of parts using WAAM is carried out by a welding robot or a 3+ axis CNC-machine integrated with a welding machine consisting of a power source and a wire feeder. A welding torch attached to the robot is used to melt the wire to build 3D parts.

Advantages of WAAM

WAAM has already been patented as early as 1920. But only recently in combination with high quality CAD/CAM-computer systems and sophisticated robotic systems it has come to industrial applications.
Among the DED family WAAM has several advantages:

  • Large part volume: The size of the parts depends only on the size of the robot, which can be extended almost limitless with tracks and manipulators. 
  • Material availability: WAAM uses conventional welding wires. These are available in large quantities and in high quality. Many of these wires are approved and guaranteed to produce a deposit with well defined properties.
  • High productivity: In comparison to other DED processes WAAM can deposit several kilograms per hour. 

MIGAL.CO products for WAAM

Aluminium alloys

While all of our wire electrodes can be used for WAAM some are specially suited.

  • MA-6063: This is a AlMg0,7SiTiB alloy with the addition of Ti5B1 particles. The particles guarantee for a very fine grainstructure to avoid hotcracking. In connection with a T6 heat treatment MA-6063 can reach a yield strength of 200-260 MPa with an elongation between 6 - 12%.
  • MA-4018: This is a AlSi7Mg alloy. It is a popular alloy for aluminium castings and can be used for the fabrication of prototypes. In combination with a T6 heat treatment it provides a yield strength of 250 MPa at an elongation of 4%.
  • MA-4046: This is a AlSi10Mg alloy. It is a popular alloy for aluminium castings and can be used for the fabrication of prototypes.
  • MA-5183: This is a AlMg4,5Mn0,7 alloy and has the highest strength of all not heat-treated alloys. It provides a yield strength of 130 MPa with an elongation of 18%.
  • MA-2319: A heat treatable AlCu alloy with highest strength for aerospace applications.

Stainless alloys

  • ML 19.12.3 LSi: Corrosion and acid-resistant stainless steel for operating temperatures up to 400┬░ Celsius
  • ML 22.9.3 NL: Stainless duplex steel with very good resistance to intergranular and pitting corrosion.

Bronzes

  • ML CuAl8Ni2: High-strength aluminium bronze with very good seawater resistance

Development of new alloys for WAAM

In collaboration with research partners, we are able to produce small quantities of wire from aluminium alloys in a wide range of chemical compositions. These wires are produced by extrusion to the final diameter and are intended for use for R&D purposes. Alloys with small additions of erbium, antimony, ytterbium, scandium and zirconium have already been realised. The quantities that can be produced range from a few hundred grams to a few kilograms.

Research

We are actively engaged in several research projects to develop the perspectives of WAAM:

  • LightPrint: Energy-efficient lightweight construction concepts through the use of 3D metal printing and novel aluminium alloys.
  • AluNanoCore: High strength nano reinforced aluminium powder cored wire for arc based additive layer manufacturing (ALM)
  • Multi-Fun: Provide a significant performance & efficiency gain in MAM products by fully INTEGRATED MULTI-FUNCTIONALITIES based on NOVEL ACTIVE MATERIALS. Enable MULTI-MATERIAL design in geometrically complex 3D metal parts WITHOUT SIZE LIMITATION by innovative, cost-effective AM technologies
  • MSGeneral: Development of a technology for generative MSG welding of geometries on aluminium die-cast components AiF/IGF 21 541 BR
  • Aladdin: Aluminium foam additively shaped by MIG welding (Aladdin) AiF/IGF 22 055 BR
  • DEDAluS: Additive manufacturing by means of DED process of aluminium structures
  • COAMWELD: Fabrication of advanced metallic components through combination of additive manufacturing and welding