3D Printing of Aluminum Alloys


Aluminium is the most common metal in our earth’s crust. It is also the second most used metal in the manufacturing industry, with an increasing influence on the industry due to its excellent weight-to-strength ratio. The strengths of aluminium become especially beneficial in industries where performance can be improved by reducing weight. However, traditional manufacturing is limited by many constraints in manufacturability and, therefore, can usually not use the benefits of aluminium in its entirety.

The properties of aluminium, or when to use it and when not

Aluminium is a lightweight alloy that has a Young’s modulus roughly three times lower than that of steel. However, it is also approximately three times lighter. Therefore, it has a similar strength-to-weight ratio as steel. However because of the lower density it is easier to place material exactly where you need it and leave it out where you don’t need it. This is caused by the lower density which allows to make thicker structures that do not fall below the minimum feature size of a given 3D printing process while still being lightweight. Especially in combination with additive manufacturing, optimising parts can be done even more efficiently because of the lower geometrical manufacturing constraints.

Another huge benefit of aluminium comes from its good heat conductivity which makes it a great material for heat sinks and other heat transfer applications like heat exchangers. Compared to copper, it has a slightly lower thermal conductivity. However, it is also much cheaper per unit volume in 3D printing (actually also cheaper than steel per unit volume in 3D printing) and more oxidation and chemical resistant than copper.

Oxidation and chemical resistance also outperform many iron and steel alloys. There are more resistant stainless steel alloys but they are much worse in terms of thermal conductivity.

Aluminium also has some limitations. If you are looking for high-temperature applications, aluminium can be the wrong choice. It is not ideal for parts that require great wear resistance and need a high hardness since aluminium alloys tend to be softer than other materials.


As discussed aluminium has a great strength-to-weight ratio and a low density, which makes it an ideal material in many industries.


In the realm of aerospace engineering, aluminium 3D printing has revolutionised the fabrication of critical components. The lightweight yet robust nature of aluminium makes it an ideal material for crafting structural parts, brackets, and intricate components for aircraft and spacecraft. Its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio enables engineers to design and produce parts that are not only durable but also significantly lighter, contributing to enhanced fuel efficiency and overall performance. Aerospace industries leverage aluminium 3D printing for creating complex geometries and customised parts, enabling innovative designs that might be unattainable through traditional manufacturing methods.

Heatsinks and Coolers

Aluminum’s excellent thermal conductivity and lightweight characteristics make it a sought-after material for the production of heat sinks and coolers. Through metal 3D printing, intricate designs with optimised thermal dissipation capabilities can be achieved, efficiently managing heat in various electronic devices. From computer processors over electric motors to high-powered LEDs, aluminium 3D-printed heatsinks provide an effective solution for dissipating heat, ensuring the optimal functioning and longevity of sensitive electronic components. The versatility of aluminium in 3D printing allows for the creation of complex cooling structures tailored to specific devices, offering a compelling solution for heat management in numerous technological applications.

A 3D Printed Brushless Motor Heatsink


In conclusion, aluminium 3D printing stands as a great tool for many industries, offering a unique combination of lightweight properties, exceptional thermal conductivity, and design flexibility. Its applications in aerospace engineering showcase the potential to create components that significantly reduce weight without compromising structural integrity, thereby enhancing performance and efficiency. Simultaneously, in electronics, its excellent thermal conductivity makes it an optimal choice for crafting heatsinks and coolers, ensuring efficient heat dissipation in various devices.

Are you getting the most out of your aluminium parts by 3D printing them? 

We help you with our research and industry expertise to achieve top performance with 3D printed aluminium Parts. Just give us a call or write us here, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter (1 Mail per week, no more!) if you want to get notified when our next release is out.


The next releases will cover:

  • Lattice Structures and their Applications
  • Essential Design Rules for Mass 3D Printing
  • 3D Printing In-house vs Contract Manufacturing
  • How to Find the Right 3D Printing Process
  • High Resolution 3D printing (SLA/DLP)


A Side View of 3D Printed Brushless Motor Heatsink

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