Ensuring quality metal powder for your 3D printing needs can be a challenge. In this series we are looking at the top areas of contamination risk to help equip engineering managers with questions to ask to improve your supply quality.
Many powder producers, including Carpenter Powder Products, produce a variety of product chemistries for titanium as well as other pre-alloyed metal powders. When changing over from producing one powder to another, residue in the unit can introduce contamination risk.
Thorough cleaning processes are imperative to ensure all surfaces touched by molten metal or atomized powder are free from residual alloy. Industry-accepted standards involve a simple wipe down of visible dust from the unit.
Carpenter Powder Products features a large banner in its plant that reads: Fanatically Clean. It's lighthearted inspiration based on serious science.
Our team of metallurgy experts know that anything short of fanaticism can present a problem to parts performance. Puris has adopted some innovative strategies to alleviate contamination risk at the source; read Part 2: The Crucial Crucible and Part 3: Iron Pickup Risk to learn more about those.
But it's also important that suppliers follow stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) to clean the atomizer and verify cleanliness between batches. Here are some questions and tips you can use to gain confidence that your supplier's standards for clean powder are fanatical:
- Can I take a plant tour? (This is the best way to verify the plant's commitment to clean)
- Do you produce myriad titanium powder chemistries? Do you produce other pre-alloyed metal powders?
- Is the atomizer tower wiped down when changing powders?
- Are other components of the atomizer wiped down?
- What standard is used to verify cleanliness post-wipe down?