Is Powder the Bottleneck for Metal Additive Manufacturing?
The Engineer posted on September 21, 2016 |

(Image courtesy of TRUMPF.)

(Image courtesy of TRUMPF.)

Earlier this year, we covered five predictions for metal 3D printing in 2016. One of those predictions was the growth in the metal powder supply chain would struggle to keep pace with demand. More specifically, the lack of high-quality, defect-free metal powder for alloys could limit the growth of metal additive manufacturing in medical and aerospace applications.

In other words, the growth of metal additive manufacturing as a production technology depends on more than just 3D printers themselves. For this reason, Farleygreene has developed an automated sieving station designated as SIEVGEN 400-US. The system is designed for both sieving virgin powder prior to loading as well as the reclamation of post-build powders.

The working parts of the machine are enclosed within a mobile shell. All controls are situated on the front panel, which powers the ultrasonic generator, sieve vibration, and, if fitted, the powder loading pneumatic transfer system.

(Image courtesy of Farleygreene.)
(Image courtesy of Farleygreene.)
According to Farleygreene, when in normal use the system provides for a completely sealed and dust tight process. The feed hopper is docked into place to feed the sieve unit with a self-sealing interface and the media is introduced through an internal metering device designed to ensure the optimum screen dwell time to recover as much useable material as possible.

Oversize powder is continuously removed and ‘good’ product falls through the ultrasonically excited mesh. The screened media is filled into a receptacle locked into place on a mobile dolly to reduce manual handling as much as possible and allow the operator to move the product to where it is required.

The high frequency sieve is serviced by pulling the assembly out on a cassette type tray system, giving the operator access to the working parts for cleaning. The system is intended to be used for any application where the sieving of materials to very fine tolerances is required.

For more information, visit the Farleygreene website.

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