We are addressing some of the fundamental unresolved issues associated with powder metallurgy processes. The characteristics of the raw powder used in a process greatly affect the material properties that are obtained in the finished component. 

To address this issue, greater knowledge is required of the variation inherent in powder production and the optimum powder characteristics for a given production process.

Our Powder Characterisation Laboratory provides in-depth analysis of powder characteristics that will lead to greater understanding and control of current variance in the existing grades of powder. Powder characterisation includes flow measurements, morphology, particle size distribution, density and chemical composition.

Research areas

Barriers to mass adoption of metal additive manufacturing processes include the cost of raw materials and variation in powder performance. Identification of the key powder characteristics for specific process conditions may enable end users to avoid over-specifying powder requirements, potentially reducing raw material cost and waste. 

Our research is building a fundamental understanding of the influence of powder characteristics on component integrity for different powder metallurgy processing routes. With better understanding of the relationships between initial powder characteristics and final material properties, it may ultimately be possible to optimise process parameters for a given powder specification to produce the desired physical properties.

Capabilities

Particle size determination:

  • Malvern Mastersizer 3000 (Laser diffraction, both wet and dry measurement capability)

Morphology characterisation:

  • Malvern Morphologi G3 - static image analysis system, 0.5 micron to several millimetres

Flow characteristics:

  • Freeman Technology FT4 - Powder Rheometer - shear strength, density, compressibility and permeability
  • Standard Hall flow meter and Carney funnel

Density measurement:

  • Micromeritics Gas Pyncometer
  • Balances to both 3 and 4 decimal places

Scanning Electron Microscopy with EDX:

  • Zeiss with Oxford detector

Optical microscopy (various magnifications):

  • Zeiss and Leica

Sampling

Sieving

Sample conditioning:

  • Binder 23l capacity vacuum oven

Sample preparation:

  • Struers preparation suite

Chemical compositional analysis:

  • a wide variety of techniques are accessible to us 

For more information, please contact:

Dr James Hughes, Director National Metals Technology Centre (NAMTEC)
j.hughes@namtec.co.uk