What is Spherical metal powder?
Spherical metal powder is the core material of metal 3D printing and the most
important link in the 3D printing industry chain, which is closely related to
the development of 3D printing technology. It is a metal powder with a size of
less than 1 mm. In addition, the metal is required to meet the requirements of
high purity, good sphericity, narrow particle size distribution, low oxygen
content, and good fluidity. At present, metal powder materials for 3D printing
are mainly concentrated in metals and their alloys such as iron, titanium,
cobalt, copper, and nickel.
With the rapid development of metal 3D printing technology, the market for spherical metal powders will maintain a high growth trend. The market size of 3D printing metal powder in 2016 was approximately US$250 million. According to IDTechEx, the market size of 3D printing metal powder will reach US$5 billion by 2025. It is particularly important to study the preparation of metal powder for 3D printing. This article describes the basic principles of the main preparation process of metal powder for 3D printing, and analyzes its advantages and disadvantages. The purpose is to further improve the level of preparation technology of metal powder for 3D printing and promote The development and application of 3D printing technology.
The powder produced by the atomization method has accounted for more than 80% of the metal 3D printing powder in the world today. The principle is that the fast-moving fluid (atomization medium) impacts or otherwise breaks the metal or alloy stream into fine droplets. It is a powder preparation method that condenses into a solid powder. The principle of gas atomization is the process of pulverizing a liquid metal stream into droplets through a high-speed airflow and quickly condensing it into powder. The metal powder prepared by gas atomization has the advantages of fine particle size, high sphericity, and high purity. It is currently the main method for producing metal powder for 3D printing. The 3D printing powder metal prepared by it accounts for about 40% of the powder prepared by the atomization method. However, the gas atomization technology also has certain shortcomings. In the process of airflow crushing the metal liquid, the airflow energy is low, and the atomization efficiency is low, which increases the metal powder preparation cost.
The spheroidization method is mainly to spheroidize the irregular powder produced by the crushing method and the physical and chemical method. It is considered to be the most effective process for obtaining high-density spherical powder. The principle is to use a heat source with high temperature and high energy density ( Plasma), the powder particles are rapidly heated and melted, and condensed into spherical droplets under the action of their surface tension. After entering the cooling chamber, they are rapidly cooled to obtain spherical powder. At present, the preparation process of spheroidization is mainly divided into radio frequency ion spheroidization and laser spheroidization. Because the initial powder will produce a certain agglomeration phenomenon, it will melt as a whole during the spheroidization process, resulting in an increase in the particle size of the prepared spherical metal powder.
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