Overview of Al 3004 Powder
Al 3004 powder is an aluminum alloy powder that contains approximately 1% manganese and 0.25% magnesium. It is known for its good corrosion resistance, moderate strength, and excellent workability.
This versatile alloy powder has a wide range of applications across various industries like aerospace, automotive, marine, construction, and general engineering. Its properties make it suitable for complex fabrication and welding operations.
Some key properties and uses of Al 3004 powder include:
Properties and Characteristics of Al 3004 Powder
|Composition||Aluminum with 1% Manganese, 0.25% Magnesium|
|Melting Point||Approximately 630°C|
|Particle Shape||Spherical, granular|
|Typical Size Range||15-180 microns|
|Flowability||Excellent due to spherical shape|
Applications and Uses of Al 3004 Powder
|Additive Manufacturing||Used in DMLS, SLM, and EBM 3D printing processes|
|Metal Injection Molding||Binder jetting, extrusion, injection molding|
|Thermal Spraying||Wire arc spraying, plasma transferred arc welding|
|Welding Wires||GMAW and GTAW welding electrode filler|
|Plastic Thermal Spraying||Flame sprayed coatings on plastics|
|Pigments||Aluminum powder pigments and paints|
Specifications and Standards for Al 3004 Powder
|ASTM Standard||ASTM B801, ASTM B964|
|ISO Standard||ISO 1338, ISO 2233|
|European Standards||EN 10204 3.1, DIN 1725|
|Particle Size||-325 mesh (<45 microns)|
|Apparent Density||~1.2 g/cm3|
|Tap Density||Up to 2.5 g/cm3|
|Flow Rate||25-35 s/50g|
How Is Al 3004 Powder Produced?
Al 3004 alloy powder is manufactured through the atomization process where molten aluminum alloy is turned into a fine powder.
The production steps are:
- Melting – Aluminum scrap, ingots, or billets are melted in a furnace at around 700°C. Magnesium and manganese are added to achieve the 3004 composition.
- Degassing – The molten metal is degassed using argon or nitrogen to remove dissolved hydrogen gas. This improves powder quality.
- Atomization – The liquid aluminum is poured into a special atomizing unit where it is broken into fine droplets by a high pressure gas or water jet.
- Powder Collection – The atomized alloy powder is cooled and collected in a chamber beneath the atomization unit. Particle size classification is carried out.
- Sieving – The powder is sieved to achieve the desired mesh range like -325 mesh for AM uses.
- Packaging – The finished Al 3004 powder is packaged in drums or bottles for shipment to customers. Proper dry storage is necessary.
Key Al 3004 Powder Manufacturers
Some leading global suppliers of Al 3004 gas atomized powders include:
- HPPM – Finland
- Sandvik Osprey – UK
- TLS Technik – Germany
- HC Starck – Germany
- Pometon SpA – Italy
- Fukuda Metal Foil & Powder Co – Japan
Global Supply and Availability
Al 3004 alloy powders are widely available globally from stock with short lead times. Custom particle size distributions and high purity grades are also available on request. Asia and Europe are major manufacturing hubs supplying this material.
Properties and Performance of Al 3004 Powder
Al 3004 has moderate strength with high ductility and excellent formability in the annealed temper condition. Key mechanical properties include:
- Ultimate Tensile Strength – 190 to 240 MPa
- Yield Strength – 110 to 185 MPa
- Elongation – 8 to 20%
- Hardness – 55 to 65 HB
It can be work hardened to increase strength. Solution treatment or aging can also enhance mechanical performance.
|Electrical Conductivity||35% IACS|
|Thermal Conductivity||130 W/m-K|
|CTE||23 x 10-6 K-1|
|Modulus of Elasticity||70 GPa|
Al 3004 powder has very good corrosion resistance due to the manganese and magnesium content. It offers better protection compared to pure aluminum in many environments.
- Excellent resistance to atmospheric corrosion
- Very good resistance to marine atmospheres
- Moderate resistance to chemical environments
- Susceptible to strong alkalis
It can be anodized to further improve surface properties. Appropriate surface treatments are recommended for optimal performance.
Al 3004 has excellent weldability by all commercial methods. It is extensively used as filler wire. No special techniques are required. Post-weld heat treatment may be done to obtain optimal properties.
Applications of Al 3004 Powder
A major use of Al 3004 powder is in additive manufacturing like direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) and electron beam melting (EBM). Key advantages:
- Good flow and spreadability ensures uniform layers
- Achieves over 99% densification in sintering
- Moderate strength allows larger unsupported structures
- Excellent surface finish possible up to 10 μm
- Heat treatable to increase tensile strength up to 400 MPa
Al 3004 is ideal for parts like aerospace components, automotive prototypes, tooling inserts, marine hardware, and architectural models.
Metal Injection Molding
Al 3004 powder is suitable for metal injection molding of small, complex, net-shape components in high volumes.
- Extrusion and binder jetting viable
- Allows MIM of highly precise parts with thinner walls and superior mechanical properties
- Used to injection mold parts like gears, nozzles, and other high performance components
Flame spraying, wire arc spraying and plasma transferred arc welding methods extensively use Al 3004 wire for coatings.
- Provides excellent corrosion protection with moderate hardness
- Dense coatings with very good adhesive strength
- Used for part repair and to combat sliding wear, fretting, and abrasion
Al 3004 is widely used as filler wire and welding electrode for joining aluminum due to its excellent fusion properties and corrosion resistance.
- Used for GTAW and GMAW processes
- Can fill gaps and bridge differences in base materials
- Ideal for repair welding of cast aluminum parts
- Used for welding heat exchangers, ship parts, storage tanks, etc.
Al 3004 powder’s silver metallic color, brightness, and safety make it ideal for paint and pigment applications.
- Used in solvent-based and water-based paints
- Provides excellent brightness and metallic effects
- Eco-friendly alternative to lead and zinc pigments
- Common uses in automotive coatings, road marking paints, industrial paints
How to Choose an Al 3004 Powder Supplier
Choosing a reliable Al 3004 powder supplier is critical to get high quality material. Here are key factors to consider:
- Years of experience producing Al 3004 gas atomized powders
- Expertise in quality control and sieving technology
- Proven track record of supplying to AM industry
- ISO 9001 and AS9100 certified
- Raw material traceability and lot recall systems
- Statistical process control and sampling
- Sophisticated in-house powder characterization
- Ability to customize particle size distributions and achieve narrow ranges
- Capacity for high purity grades – Low oxygen, moisture and gasses
- Stringent chemical analysis, sieving consistency and tap density
- Readily available small trial samples
- Fast turnaround on custom orders
- Close technical collaboration for custom projects
- Warehouses near manufacturing hubs
- Speedy delivery across regions
- Conformance to hazardous goods shipping regulations
How to Install, Operate, and Maintain Al 3004 Powder
Proper handling and storage of Al 3004 powder is critical to preserving quality. Recommendations include:
- Carefully transfer powder from shipping drums into storage hoppers or equipment powder beds.
- Ensure transfer equipment is grounded to avoid static buildup.
- Level and distribute powder evenly across build platform.
- Follow OEM equipment guidelines for loading procedures.
- Maintain a consistent powder bed temperature as per application requirements.
- Use appropriate inert gases like argon to avoid oxidation.
- Control moisture levels at all times during processing and reuse.
- Clean overflow powder from filters to reuse.
- Store powder in a dry, inert environment below 30°C temperature.
- Periodically re-sieve stored powder to ensure size distribution.
- Discard powder packages after 2 years due to deterioration.
- Avoid contamination – Use stainless steel containers and handling tools.
- Wear gloves, eye protection and dust mask when handling powder.
- Ground all equipment and take measures against static discharge.
- Follow SDS and local regulations for combustible metallic powder storage and transport.
Choosing Between Al 3004 vs Alternatives
Vs 5xxx Series Alloys
5xxx alloys like 5083 have higher magnesium content imparting higher strength but lower weldability. Al 3004 has better corrosion resistance suited for marine applications.
Vs 6xxx Series Alloys
6xxx alloys contain silicon along with magnesium resulting in heat treatability and higher strength but poorer bending formability. Al 3004 is easier to fabricate and weld.
Vs 2xxx Series Alloys
2xxx alloys with copper have the highest strength but lowest corrosion resistance. Al 3004 provides a better balance of moderate strength and excellent corrosion protection.
Vs Pure Aluminum
Pure aluminum grades like 1050 are softer and very ductile but have lower strength and worse corrosion resistance than Al 3004.
Al 3004 is far lighter in weight than steel. It is also better for cold temperatures but has lower hardness and wear resistance than steel.
Q: Is Al 3004 powder compatible with DMLS or SLM printing?
A: Yes, Al 3004 is an excellent alloy powder for DMLS and SLM additive manufacturing with its good flowability and high densification. Particle size can be customized as per printer requirements.
Q: What is the typical price range of Al 3004 powder?
A: Al 3004 powder costs between $15-30 per kg depending on quantity and particle size. High purity grades and custom distributions cost more. Asia manufacturers offer competitive pricing.
Q: What particle size is best for thermal spraying?
A: For wire arc spraying, a coarse powder between 45-106 microns is preferred. Finer powders under 45 microns are more suitable for flame spraying applications.
Q: Can Al 3004 powder be heat treated?
A: Yes, Al 3004 can be solution heat treated and artificially aged to significantly enhance its mechanical properties like tensile strength. Temper designations like T4 and T6 apply after heat treating.
Q: Is Al 3004 weldable?
A: Al 3004 has excellent weldability by all methods. It is commonly used as filler wire for GTAW and GMAW welding of 2xxx and 7xxx series aluminum alloys when strength is not critical.
Q: What are common applications of Al 3004?
A: Key applications include additive manufacturing, metal injection molding of small complex parts, welding wires, thermal spray coatings, aluminum pigments, and corrosion resistant marine and automotive components.
Q: What is the difference between Al 3003 and Al 3004 alloy?
A: Al 3003 contains 0.05% copper instead of 0.25% magnesium in 3004. 3003 has slightly higher strength while 3004 offers better corrosion resistance. Both have excellent workability.
Q: Does Al 3004 powder require special storage?
A: Al 3004 powder should be stored in sealed containers in a cool, dry environment below 30°C. Take precautions against moisture and oxygen contamination during long term storage. Re-sieve occasionally.
Q: Can Al 3004 powder be reused?
A: Yes, unused powder can be collected through filters and sieved to remove large particles prior to reuse. But reuse should be limited to avoid contamination issues affecting quality and performance.