Metal AM Autumn 2015

Page 77

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Powder size and shape optimisation

Size and shape optimisation of metal powders for Additive Manufacturing

The consistency of metal powder particle size, shape and flow is essential for those companies looking to move to serial production of high quality components. The correct characterisation of powders enables the necessary quality control to ensure powder behaviour is predictable and repeatable from batch to batch. Dr Paul Kippax, Product Group Manager, Malvern Instruments, and Dr Robert Deffley, Research & Development Manager, LPW Technology, report on the process undertaken at LPW to ensure its powders meet customer expectations.

As the Additive Manufacturing industry matures and transitions from prototype manufacture to commercial production, attention to the properties of metal powders used in AM is growing. Amongst the most important considerations is the identification of powders that will process efficiently in a given machine. Securing a consistent supply of such material can be a challenge, but is crucial for profitable operation in the long term as organisations adopt AM for serial production, and imperative in sectors such as the biomedical and aerospace industries where the use of certified materials is necessary to meet stringent standards for quality and safety. LPW Technology is a global leader in the development, optimisation and supply of metal powders for AM, and relies heavily on characterisation technology to meet evolving and increasingly

Vol. 1 No. 3 Š 2015 Inovar Communications Ltd

exacting customer requirements. This article looks at how the company uses particle size and shape measurement systems from Malvern Instruments to provide the information needed to support the quality control and assurance of AM powders.

The requirements for Additive Manufacturing In its early years, AM was known for the manufacture of prototypes, primarily using polymer powders. However, during the last decade,

Fig. 1 The Mastersizer 3000 from Malvern Instruments uses the technique of laser diffraction to measure particle size distributions from 10 nm up to 3.5 mm

Metal Additive Manufacturing | Autumn/Fall 2015

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