Inexpensive Powder for the Additive Manufacturing of Steels
A new type of iron powder now offers a more affordable alternative in the additive manufacturing of steels. Besides this, the new powder also increases material flexibility and makes the use of a larger range of materials economically feasible.
Up to now, only spherical powders produced by inert gas atomisation have been used for additive manufacturing in the powder bed-based processes selective electron beam melting (SEBM) and selective laser melting (SLM). As a result, the prices are very high. Using a feasibility study for processing by SEBM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has now shown that dimensionally stable components can also be produced with iron powder. Despite the more irregular particle shape and the expected poorer flowability compared to gas atomised powders, iron powder is a real low-cost alternative.
Furthermore, it has been repeatedly proven that the SEBM process is a very robust technology with regard to variations in the flowability of the powder. The addition of various powder mixtures and, hence, the processing of a wide variety of alloys have also been successfully tested. Detailed investigations into the respective alloy behaviour are currently under way. This means that Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden has not only created an inexpensive alternative for the additive manufacturing of steels, which is also conceivable for other materials, but also increased material flexibility and made a larger range of materials become economically feasible.