Video: GE's Specialized Powder Metal Materials for Additive Manufacturing
James Anderton posted on June 05, 2018 |

In discussions on metal additive manufacturing, materials are often treated like an afterthought. More attention is given to the process, machine and even the parts than to the specialized materials that must be used.

Additive materials are a growing market, and many materials suppliers are grappling with the stringent requirements for these advanced processes. It’s very different from the standard block, sheet or bar stock required for fabrication and machining processes.

To learn more about the specifics of metal powders for powder bed additive processes, we spoke to Ethan Peress, sales representative at Advanced Powders and Coatings Inc., a GE Additive Company.

GE Additive is one of the fastest-growing  additive manufacturing companies in business today. This is partly thanks to their strategy of buying up smaller additive manufacturing companies, owning a 75% stake in Concept Laser and a 76.15% stake in Arcam AB, a Swedish metal additive company. Arcam AB also owns DiSanto Technology, a medical additive manufacturing company based in Connecticut, as well as AP&C, the metal powder materials company, based in Canada.

“At AP&C, we specialize in high-temperature and reactive materials such as titanium and titanium alloys as well as nickel superalloys,” said Peress.  In the video above, Peress explains the unique material requirements for additive manufacturing. “Powders are required to exhibit excellent flowability and a high packing density with laser powder bed technology, for example, and this is what makes our powders unique--their ability to flow very well and pack very well on a powder bed. This is due to our sphericity and minimal satellite content,” said Peress.

According to AP&C, the result is an excellent material for additive manufacturing technology. The company uses a unique plasma atomization technology using plasma torches. The process is designed to produce powders with an excellent sphericity and minimal satellite content as well as very low gas entrapment.

Image courtesy of AP&C.

Image courtesy of AP&C.

So, why is material quality so important? “Using high quality powder, you can ensure that you get the optimal flowability and packing density for your build, enabling your technology to perform at its best,” said Peress.

Storing additive materials can present challenges, too. “Fine powders can be very sensitive to environments. Moisture, for example, needs to be controlled. AP&C packages powders in a unique way with safety-approved packaging to ensure that powders, especially reactive materials, are handled safely while reducing moisture content,” said Peress.

For more videos on additive manufacturing, check out How Additive Manufacturing Can Deliver Cost-Effective End-Use Parts.

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