Powder processing for additive manufacturing with plastic, ceramic, and metallic materials

With tremendous implications for manufacturing in the age of Industry 4.0, 3D printing is often discussed as key technology of digitalization that could revolutionize production.

In order to achieve a functional end-product, the powders used in 3D printing must be adequately stable so that particle size, bulk density, and rheological characteristics remain unaffected by the melting process. At the same time, each step of the process must take place in quick succession if cost-efficiency is to be ensured.

Mixing, drying, and reacting equipment plays an important role in powder metallurgy and the preparation of polymers for 3D printing. These devices must be incredibly precise, because it is only possible to create a nanoscopic coating on each individual particle by adding the coating agent to the mixture in minute dosages as a weak solution or suspension.

Homogeneously integrating coating agents into bulk ingredients involves creating uniform levels of moisture within the powder. In order to achieve this, each and every individual particle must be wetted. If the liquid phase is ultimately to be dried, then the coating will remain evenly distributed upon the surface of each particle. Ideally the drying process will take place under a vacuum, reducing the both the duration and heat involved.

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