The ExOne Company was awarded a contract to develop binder-jet manufacturing processes for a novel steel alloy for the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). Awarded by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), the contract aims to develop and qualify AF-9628, a high-strength steel developed by the Air Force, for binder-jet 3D printing.

AF-9628 is currently manufactured with both traditional and additive methods, such as laser powder-bed fusion. Parts additively manufactured with AF-9628 are approximately 20% stronger than conventional AM alloys, in terms of ultimate tensile strength, according to the Air Force. Binder-jet 3D printing, however, provides an opportunity to additively manufacture parts with this alloy at a much lower cost.