What is 3D Printing Metal Powder?
The US President recently said the conflict between Russia and Ukraine had driven up the prices of all the world's major food staples, including wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds and edible oils, and that Russia and Ukraine together supplied more than 25% of the world's wheat exports and about 20% of its barley exports.
To address the food shortage, the Biden administration says it plans to increase the number of counties eligible for insurance for double cropping. Double cropping is when farmers grow two different crops a year on the same field.
Under Biden's plan, the number of counties eligible for two-season crop insurance would increase by 681, for a total of 1,935.
The UN has warned that up to 1.7bn people are "highly exposed" to the domino effect of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine on the global food, energy, and financial systems. The agency says conflict could increase hunger in countries where people are already suffering from malnutrition.
Even countries where food is less scarce are being hit by rising prices. U.S. grocery prices rose 1% in April, compared with a 10.8% increase over the past 12 months, the Labor Department said recently.
According to the White House, global food prices have risen nearly 13 percent since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Besides, affected by the ever-changing international situation, the supply and prices of international bulk 3D printing metal powder are still very uncertain.
Metal 3D printing is a 3D printing technology that uses metal powder to directly print metal parts, also known as Selective Laser Melting (SLM).
In addition to good plasticity, 3D printed metal powders must also meet the requirements of small particle size, narrow particle size distribution, high sphericity, good fluidity and high bulk density.
The metal powders used in most 3D printers include stainless steel, aluminum alloy, cobalt-chromium alloy, copper alloy, titanium alloy and nickel alloy. Iron base alloy is the most important and largest metal material in engineering technology. It is widely used in the forming of complex structures and is widely used in aerospace, automobile, shipbuilding, machinery manufacturing and other industries.
The type of metal powder and the 3D printing process used determine the performance of the final product
Stainless steel powder
Relatively cheap metal printing materials, cost-effective, good corrosion resistance, high strength, can be quickly and efficiently small batch of complex industrial parts manufacturing.
Aluminium alloy powder
At present, aluminum alloys used in metal 3D printing mainly include AlSi12 and AlSi10Mg. Aluminosilicate 12 is a lightweight additive used to produce metal powders with good thermal properties. The combination of silicon and magnesium gives aluminum alloys higher strength and stiffness, making them suitable for thin walls and complex geometry, especially in applications with good thermal properties and low weight. Aluminum alloy is one of the most widely used non-ferrous metal structural materials in industry, its low density, high specific strength, close to or more than high quality steel, good plasticity. Research shows that aluminum alloy used for 3D printing can achieve compact parts, small structure, mechanical properties comparable to casting or even better than casting molding parts, and compared with traditional process parts, the mass can be reduced by 22%, but the cost can be reduced by 30%.
Cobalt chromium alloy powder
Due to its excellent wear resistance and corrosion resistance, metal 3D-printed cobalt-chromium alloy powder is commonly used to print all kinds of artificial joints and plastic surgery implants, and is also useful in the field of dentistry.
Copper alloy powder
With excellent thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity, copper with excellent thermal conductivity in thermal management applications can combine design degrees of freedom to produce complex internal structures and conformal cooling channels.
Titanium alloy powder
It is widely used in the aerospace field. The advantages of 3D printing can help optimize product design, such as replacing the original solid body with a complex and reasonable structure, so that the finished product has lower weight and better mechanical properties. This can not only reduce the cost, but also realize the lightweight production of each component.
Nickel alloy powder
The characteristics of oxidation and corrosion resistance of nickel alloy make it suitable for the harsh environment of high temperature and high pressure. When the nickel alloy is heated, the surface of the alloy will passivate a thick and stable oxide layer to protect the internal alloy from corrosion. Nickel alloys maintain good mechanical properties over a wide range of temperatures.
How Can Powdered Materials be Used For 3D Printing?
High energy laser beams are then controlled by 3D model data to locally melt the metal matrix while sintering the solidified powder metal material and automatically stack it in layers to generate solid parts with dense geometry.
How to Produce 3D Printing Metal Powder?
The four most widely used methods for producing metal powders are solid-state reduction, electrolysis, chemical and atomization.
Most manufacturers use electrolysis and reduction methods to produce elemental metal powders. But they are not suitable for making alloy powders.
The atomization method can be used to produce alloy powder.
Electrolysis is another method used to produce powdered metals. By choosing the right electrolyte composition, temperature, concentration, and current density, different metals can be deposited as spongy or powdered. This can then be washed, dried, reduced, annealed and crushed. This method is used to produce very high purity metal powder. Because of its high energy requirements, it is basically used for highly conductive copper powder.
Atomization method refers to the mechanical method to pulverize the molten metal into particles smaller than 150μm. According to the classification of crushing metal melt, atomization method includes the second flow atomization method, centrifugal atomization, ultrasonic atomization, vacuum atomization and so on. These atomization methods have their own characteristics and have been successfully applied in industrial production. Among them, the water-gas atomization method has the advantages of simple production equipment and process, low energy consumption, large batch, etc., and has become the main industrial production method of metal powder.
Performance Requirements of Metal Powder For 3D Printing
Ceramic inclusions will significantly reduce the performance of the final product, and these inclusions generally have a high melting point, difficult to sinter forming, so the powder must be free of ceramic inclusions. In addition, oxygen and nitrogen content also need to be strictly controlled. At present, the powder preparation technology used in metal 3D printing is mainly by atomization method. The powder has a large specific surface area and is easy to oxidize. In aerospace and other special applications, customers have more stringent requirements on this index, such as the oxygen content of superalloy powder is 0.006%-0.018%, titanium alloy powder oxygen content is 0.007%-0.013%, stainless steel powder oxygen content is 0.010%-0.025%.
2. Powder fluidity and loose density
The fluidity of powder directly affects the uniformity of powder spreading and the stability of powder feeding. The fluidity is related to powder morphology, particle size distribution and bulk density. The larger the powder particles are, the more regular the particle shape is, and the smaller the proportion of very fine powder in particle size composition is, the better the fluidity is. The fluidity of powder increases with the increase of relative density and particle density. In addition, the adsorption of water and gas on the particle surface reduces the fluidity of powder.
3. Powder particle size distribution
Different 3D printing equipment and forming process have different requirements for powder particle size distribution. At present, the powder particle size range commonly used in metal 3D printing is 15-53μm(fine powder) and 53-105μm(coarse powder). The selection of metal powder particle size for 3D printing is mainly divided according to metal printers with different energy sources. Printers with laser as energy source are suitable for 15-53μm powder because of its fine focal spot and easy to melt fine powder As consumable material, powder replenishment method is layer-by-layer powder; The powder-laying printer with electron beam as energy source has a slightly coarse focal spot, which is more suitable for melting coarse powder. It is mainly suitable for using 53-105μm coarse powder. For coaxial powder feeder printers, powder with particle size of 105-150μm can be used as consumables.
4. Powder morphology
The morphology of powder is closely related to the preparation method of powder. Generally, when metal gas or molten liquid is transformed into powder, the shape of powder particles tends to be spherical, and when metal solid is transformed into powder, the powder particles are mostly irregular shape, and most of the powder prepared by aqueous solution electrolysis is dendritic. Generally speaking, the higher the sphericity, the better the fluidity of the powder particles.3D printing of metal powder requires sphericity above 98%, which makes it easier to lay and feed powder during printing.
3D Printing Metal Powder Supplier
Luoyang Tongrun Nano Technology Co. Ltd. (TRUNNANO) is a trusted global chemical material supplier & manufacturer with over 12-year-experience in providing super high-quality chemicals and nanomaterials, including silicon powder, nitride powder, graphite powder, zinc sulfide, calcium nitride, 3D printing powder, etc.
If you are looking for high-quality 3D printing metal powder, please feel free to contact us and send an inquiry. ([email protected])
The current international situation is highly uncertain, and its economic impact has not been able to be assessed properly. In addition, rising energy and commodity prices and supply chain disruptions are expected to push the price of the 3D printing metal powder higher.