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metal powder for 3d printing can be produced in a wide range of metals and alloys. These include titanium, aluminium, cobalt chrome, nickel-based alloys and tungsten. They can be used for a variety of applications including aerospace, nuclear and power generation components. The printing process offers the advantage of producing parts with complex shapes that are not practical to make by other methods.
The most popular metal additive manufacturing technologies are SLM, MJF and DED (Directed Energy Deposition). They all utilize a focused energy source to melt and fuse the metal powder into a solid part. This energy can be in the form of a laser, plasma arc or electron beam.
Metal SLM and DMLS prints are isotropic and have very low internal porosity. It also has high thermal and mechanical properties. This is important as these parts are designed and built to function in demanding environments and they need to be able to withstand extreme conditions.
For these processes to work, the metal powder needs to be small and uniform in size with a high degree of sphericity and low oxygen content. Water atomization is the most common method for producing metal powders for additive manufacturing. The powder is screened to remove non-agglomerated loose particles and ultra-large powder agglomerates.
This is a critical step because these prints can be very expensive to produce and require a large amount of material for support structures, which are necessary to mitigate distortion and warping during the build process. The best way to reduce the cost of these prints is by minimizing part volume and building in support as needed.