Particle characterization systems from Malvern Panalytical are helping LPW Technology, a UK-based global supplier of metal powders, to provide certified powders for additive manufacturing (AM) applications in the aerospace, automotive and biomedical sectors.
Particle size and shape are performance-defining parameters for AM powders. Malvern Panalytical’s Mastersizer 3000 laser diffraction particle size analyzer delivers rapid, routine particle size measurement for all the powders that LPW supplies.
The Morphologi G3, a microscopy-based automated image analysis system, enables quick, efficient and statistically significant measurement of particle size and shape parameters.
“Malvern Panalytical’s reputation and local presence in the UK were key factors when it came to buying the Mastersizer 3000,” said Dr. Robert Deffley, Research and Development Manager at LPW Technology Ltd. “But certain features of the instrument are especially valuable.
We use software capabilities, which were originally developed by Malvern Panalytical for pharmaceutical industry users, to apply and demonstrate the analytical rigor required for certification of our powders. In addition, the performance of the dry dispersion system allows us to measure powders in the dry state. This makes measurement and analysis fast, easy and efficient so we achieve excellent analytical productivity.”
The efficiency of AM processes, and the quality of finished components, depends on the flow behavior and packing density of the powders used. Particle size directly influences these properties and is part of the specification for all LPW products.
Sieve Analysis can be used to characterize larger particles but laser diffraction is the technique of choice for the sub-45 µm range. The Mastersizer 3000 is used intensively, by both engineers and technicians, to gather the data required for new product development, QC and evaluation of powder re-use during AM, leading to optimized materials for serial production.
Particle shape and particle shape distribution are also known to influence how metal powders flow and pack. “We know that particle shape directly influences AM performance and so an efficient imaging system is an essential tool for us,” said Dr Deffley. “In a comparative assessment the Morphologi G3 delivered the perfect balance between speed of measurement, image resolution and price. We’re looking forward to using it to further advance our understanding of AM powder behavior, which will enhance our products enabling us to offer the highest quality powders, supplied to the tightest specification for repeatable, reliable results.”
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