May 12, 2016 | By Benedict

H.C. Starck, a global supplier of metals and ceramics, has invested in new powder processing technology for additive manufacturing. The technology will enable the company to offer “spheroidized” refractory metal powders with controlled chemistry and distribution of particle sizes.

With nearly a century of experience under its belt, German supplier H.C. Starck knows a thing or two about metals. Over those 100 years, the company, which now owns facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia, has become a leading supplier of technology metals such as tantalum, tungsten, and niobium, also working with premium, high-performance ceramics. As part of new additive manufacturing-focused strategy, the company’s Fabricated Products Division today announced investment in new processing technologies with which it will manufacture specialized refractory metal powders, some of which will be optimized for use in additive manufacturing.

The installation of this new technology will enable H.C. Starck to offer spheroidized refractory metal powders—molybdenum, tantalum, niobium, and tungsten (in both pure and alloyed powder forms)—with tailored particle size distribution and chemistry. Two of those materials, molybdenum and tungsten, will be optimized for additive manufacturing purposes, with further adaptations possible based on customer requirements. Spheroidization of metal powders involves taking the raw material and passing it through high-energy gases. The melted material then reforms into spherical particles, which are ideally suited for additive manufacturing because of their increased flowability.

The benefits of these new metal powders purportedly offer a specific set of advantages: according to H.C. Starck, the spheroidized powders are engineered for high processability, producing notable improvements in performance when used with 3D printing techniques such as binder jet,  powder bed fusion, and directed energy deposition. The spherical particles produced by the equipment contribute to improved flow, high apparent density, and high purity.

By investing in new and cutting-edge processing technologies which can develop spherical powders, H.C. Starck believes it can now offer a far wider range of solution to its customers using metal 3D printers. According to Dmitry Shashkov, a member of H.C. Starck's board and head of its Fabricated Products Division, the company currently has additive manufacturing-focused customers in a number of industries, such as nuclear energy, medical and industrial imaging, and aerospace. “As a leading global supplier of high performance technology metals, H.C. Starck now offers spherical powders as a natural extension of our vertically integrated fabricated products business,” Shashkov added.

Although the new investment in processing technology will see H.C. Starck offering more AM-friendly products than before, the company had previously distributed metal powders for 3D printing under its AMPERSINT line of products.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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