Zecotek Announces Breakthrough for Metal AM Powder Production

Zecotek announces a major breakthrough in the production of metal AM powders. Will the new tech really have an impact?

zecotek, 3dprinting, metal, powder, materialZecotek Photonics has announced that they have successfully developed a unique manufacturing technology for metal powders to be used with 3D printers. 

The new manufacturing approach uses metal hydrides synthesis and has significant advantages over traditional techniques: high productivity, superior quality of synthesized hydride, significantly lower energy consumption, ecological purity and safety of the process among other key functional parameters. 

“Our new and unique manufacturing technology for metal powders is a significant achievment in the advancement of 3D printing,” said Dr. A.F. Zerrouk, Chairman, President, and CEO of Zecotek Photonics Inc. “The quest for cheap and available powders of refractory metals has been long and hard and the 3D industry will value our solution.  Laser sintering based 3D printing is undoubtedly the technology of the future.  We expect the advantages of our breakthrough technology to greatly contribute to the rapid development of additive technologies for 3D rapid manufacturing.  The development of a new generation of hydrogen-containing materials, including those based on refractory metals, nano-modified alloys and certain inter-metallides groups, is key for additive 3D printing technologies.  Zecotek and its strategic partners are leading the way in this very vast and rapidly changing market. ”

Laser sintering based 3D printing is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser as the energy source to sinter metal powder, binding the material together to create a solid structure.  Traditional metal powder manufacturing requires laborious operations to prepare hydrides, such as initial activation of metal and the deep cleaning of hydrogen, plus use of expensive fine metal powder under hydrogenation.  The metal powder developed by Zecotek and partners will be compatible with Zecotek`s 3D printer and other laser sintering based 3D printers. 

Zecotek has been working with the Institute of Chemical Physics of the National Academy of Sciences to extend the list of high-performance powder metal alloys for use in its compact, high-speed 3D printer. The Institute along with Zecotek and LT-Pyrkal are collaborating to fine tune the advanced technology necessary for the fabrication of metal powders from metal hydride compounds.  The long term objective of the group is to maintain a leadership position in 3D metal printing as well as the production of high-performance powder materials for the 3D additive manufacture of metal and alloys based components for very wide applications and industries at large.  Zecotek is in negotiations with market leaders, with the view of selecting the most optimum commercialization route its new 3D printer and powder technologies.

In July 2014 Zecotek contracted LT-PYRKAL to assemble and test its first compact, high-speed 3D printer which will use high-performance metal alloys and offer technical and commercial advantages over other 3D printing technology. A number of key technical challenges have been solved and LT-Pyrkal is proceeding with the assembly of the new 3D printer, which will be used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing with specific applications in electronics, aerospace, automotive, mechanical and healthcare industries.  A working prototype of the high-speed 3D printer is schedule for Q3 calendar 2015.  

Source: Zecotek