Man­u­fac­tur­ing with metal has changed for­ever

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - 3D TECHNOLOGY -

Un­til now 3D print­ing with metal has been pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive be­cause of the cost of ti­ta­nium pow­ders that cur­rently sell for $200 – $400 a kilo­gram.

How­ever, in the UK, Rother­ham based com­pany Me­tal­y­sis has de­vel­oped a new way of pro­duc­ing low-lost ti­ta­nium pow­der, which her­alds a new era in ad­di­tive layer man­u­fac­ture, and will see greater use of ti­ta­nium in com­po­nents across the au­to­mo­tive, aero­space and de­fence in­dus­tries.

The Ren­ishaw 3D printer at the Univer­sity of Sh­effield has demon­strated the fea­si­bil­ity of pro­duc­ing ti­ta­nium com­po­nents us­ing ad­di­tive layer man­u­fac­tur­ing.

The Me­tal­y­sis process is rad­i­cally cheaper and en­vi­ron­men­tally be­nign com­pared with ex­ist­ing ti­ta­nium pro­duc­tion meth­ods, such as the en­er­gy­in­ten­sive and toxic Kroll process.

Cur­rently, the man­u­fac­ture of ti­ta­nium pow­der in­volves tak­ing the metal sponge pro­duced by the Kroll process, which is then pro­cessed into in­got bil­lets, melted into bar form and fi­nally atomised into pow­der – a costly and labour-in­ten­sive four-step process.

Me­tal­y­sis takes ru­tile and trans­forms it di­rectly into pow­dered ti­ta­nium us­ing elec­trol­y­sis, which is cost-ef­fec­tive and is es­sen­tial to the sup­ply chain; the low-cost ti­ta­nium pow­der can be used in a va­ri­ety of new ap­pli­ca­tions whereas pre­vi­ously the metal has been ex­ces­sively ex­pen­sive for use in mass pro­duc­tion of lower value items.

Three-D print­ing brings fur­ther cost ben­e­fits by re­duc­ing waste be­cause the cur­rent means of pro­duc­tion is sub­trac­tive, as com­po­nents are shaped out of metal bil­lets, which wastes a huge amount of ma­te­rial.

Me­tal­y­sis’ low-cost ti­ta­nium pow­der en­ables ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing with its metal pow­der, thereby re­duc­ing the quan­tity of ma­te­rial re­quired.

Pro­fes­sor Iain Todd says: “The stepchange in terms of process eco­nom­ics that this ma­te­rial break­through pro­vides takes us ever closer to the time when 3D print­ing of met­als such as ti­ta­nium is con­sid­ered the norm rather than ex­cep­tional.”

Metal pow­ders cre­ated by the Me­tal­y­sis process can be en­gi­neered to get par­ti­cle size and dis­tri­bu­tion cor­rect for a range of PM ap­pli­ca­tions.

Si­mon Scott of Ren­ishaw looks at a metal en­gine part made with a 3D printer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.