Current commercial applications of powder-based AM predominantly use well-established materials such as polyamides, titanium, or stainless steel, in the form of feedstocks tailored for printing. However, flexibility is a defining feature of AM and there is almost limitless potential to print with new materials. Across the globe researchers are working with nanocomposites, filled and reinforced polymers, innovative alloys, and other materials, to add new functionality to AM parts and realise new applications for the technology.
These researchers share a common problem which is how best to characterise new materials to assess their likely performance. Developmental powders may only be available in very small quantities, ruling out a print trial, but gaining a representative assessment of powder behaviour, as early as possible, is critical. This raises the question of whether it is possible to test powders, in the absence of or ahead of a print trial, to accelerate development to a successful conclusion?
My view, Professor Oana Ghita, University of Exeter, would be that yes, an optimised testing strategy can make a big difference when it comes to developing new powders for AM. While there is no substitute for a print trial, sensitive, relevant testing can help to narrow down the candidate pipeline, to point research down the most promising avenues, and to provide insight into why one powder ultimately turns out to be superior to another.
You can read the full article via the TCT Magazine website – click here.
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Image courtesy of University of Exeter CALM.