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Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing

There's no doubt that 3D printing technologies are leading to the next major industrial revolution and that Additive Manufacturing plays a key-role in the Industry 4.0, saving time and costs, being decisive for process efficiency and reducing its complexity, allowing for rapid prototyping and highly decentralized production processes. Currently, more and more industrial segments are adopting Additive manufacturing (AM) [1]: AM allows 3D objects to be manufactured in a completely revolutionary way, adding layer upon layer instead of removing material from a master piece of material. Three main categories of materials can be used in Additive manufacturing: polymers, ceramics and metals. These materials are often produced in powder form, and the physical properties of these powders significantly influence their ability to be processed in AM machines and strongly condition the final product quality. Poor quality of the powder can produce defects in the final component such as pores, inclusions, residual tensions, cracks and surface roughness. Furthermore, a low quality of powder affects the process by compromising the uniformity and flowability of the powder bed. There is a direct correlation between the physical properties of the powder and the performance of process and final components.

The characterization of the powders physical properties therefore allows to optimize the process and improve the final product. It is crucial in different steps of the Additive manufacturing process:

  • powder production: characterization and quality control of powders produced with different technologies
  • choice of the best performing powders for processing: definition of the ideal physical characteristics of the powders according to the application field.
  • input raw material: control of specifications declared by the manufacturer and monitoring of supplies constancy
  • recycling of waste powder: evaluation of the number of process cycles on the physical characteristics of the powder, in order to reuse powders as much as possible,to lower manufacturing costs.

Which physical characteristics of the powder determine its performance? Both batch and individual particles properties!
The ability to flow and to compact at best is crucial to allow consistent dosages and stratifications during process. These properties are directly, although not exclusively, influenced by the particles size and shape, as well as by their surface roughness, bulk density and electrostatic charge. Flowability, compaction density, particle size distribution and particle shape can be assessed quickly and effectively by means of powder rheology, density, laser diffraction and image analysis tests. Alfatestlab provides a complete analytical service to characterize the wide range of bulk powders and particle properties that can have a critical impact on AM processes, thanks to a latest generation technological platform. 

[1] International Journal of Engineering and Technical Research 8(8):3-8, 2018

 For any analytical project, Alfatestlab offers effective communication, using frequently scheduled phone conferences, on site face-to-face discussions and exhaustive reports.

 Contact us to discuss how we can help characterizing your powders and improve your AM process

More details here below on our analytical services for Additive manufacturing: