Alumide is a powder based material that is a mix of aluminum and polymide. Essentially, it is aluminum reinforced Nylon PA12. It even has the same printing method, SLS. It’s as strong and almost as flexible as standard nylon, but with a nice sparkling effect. This is because the raw material creates a matte surface which is somewhat porous and shiny.
Typical applications include parts for wind tunnel testing in the automotive industry, small production runs and illustrative models with a metallic appearance.
The physical properties of Alumide and Nylon PA12 printed using SLS are very similar. Because it’s mixed with metal powder, it can withstand higher temperatures up to 130 °C (266 °F).
For more specifications, the table below shows the exact properties of Alumide.
Selective Laser Sintering, or SLS, is a 3D printing method that uses a high-powered laser to print objects layer by layer from a fine powder. The laser forms each layer by tracing a pattern in the powder. This sinters and bonds the material together. When an entire cross-section is traced, the build platform lowers one layer height. This process continues for each layer until the model is complete. The object remains in the powder until finished. Therefore, the powder supports the object during the print. This eliminates the need for support structures.
The SLS printing process can provide good mechanical properties. This makes it ideal for functional prototypes and short-run manufacturing.
Thickness & Geometry
The minimum wall thickness for this material is 1.5 mm to ensure self-standing stability. If a wall thickness of less than 1.5 mm is desired, support structures can be used for stability.
Included engravings should optimally have a minimum 1.0 mm line thickness, 1.5 mm depth, and 4.5 mm overall height.
Included embossments should be thick enough to survive production and shipment. For this reason, the minimum recommended dimensions are 0.8 mm line thickness, 0.8 mm depth, and 3.0 mm overall height.
There are two concerns to be aware of when printing by SLS. First, the powder can get trapped with the model. Second, the layers can get sintered together when there is supposed to be a gap. Therefore, it is important to have a large enough gap between the walls. 1 mm is recommended for small models, with larger models potentially requiring more.
If the model will be printed in parts to be assembled, a 0.5 mm width is necessary between the different pieces to ensure fit.