LPW Technology, the market leader in the manufacture, development and processing of high quality metal powders and innovative solutions for additive manufacturing, quantifies the risk of reusing powder in an uncontrolled manner and provides PowderLife solutions to assess, in real-time, the suitability of metal powder for continued reuse.
As with conventional manufacturing, material cost is primarily the highest cost factor in ongoing AM production. Intelligent metal powder reuse means that final cost per part does not have to reflect the initial material cost per kilo. AM Metal powder can be reused until it exceeds the material specification limits. Knowing the rate of powder evolution, will determine when the powder has moved out of specification and should be removed from the repeat build process.
Consider two powders with 100 ppm difference in oxygen levels at the beginning of the build cycle. Detailed studies indicate an oxygen pick-up rate of around 3.5 ppm per build. This equates to almost 30 additional reuses of the lower oxygen powder before it exceeds the level which would compromise mechanical properties in the built parts.
Confidence in this approach comes from ensuring that the material is kept in a controlled environment, from powder manufacture to build, through use of LPW’s smart PowderTrace AM storage and transport hopper. Combining the PowderEye material monitoring sensors with PowderSolve AM quality management software enables full traceability of the powder condition from first to last use.
The availability of PowderLife enhancing solutions, which add confidence in the reuse of metal powder, is changing the business landscape for metal AM. The commercial argument to purchase high quality material extending the specification life of the powder is very real.