Abbott Furnace and ExOne, a provider of 3D-printing systems, are collaborating on the use of continuous furnaces for sintering of aluminum and high-volume binder-jet applications. ExOne announced in March that it had begun successfully binder-jet printing and sintering 6061 aluminum. While most binder-jet 3D printers sold today are paired with a batch sintering furnace, ExOne found – with Abbott’s assistance – that Al 6061 preferred a continuous furnace that would be advantageous in high-volume production.

According to Irwin, Pa.-based ExOne, the use of a continuous furnace turned out to be a key element of its patent-pending approach. Abbott’s continuous furnaces, such as the Vulcan Delube System, specialize in removing binders or lubricants from PM and binder-jet parts efficiently and cleaning the parts through several chambers of tightly controlled atmospheres and thermal profiles. As a result, ExOne and St. Marys, Pa.-based Abbott can currently deliver high-density repeatable results in Al 6061.

According to Abbott, developments around the recent AL 6061 achievement will transform manufacturing in important ways, delivering more lightweight geometries in aluminum that are important to the automotive and aerospace industries.