Sep 29, 2017 | By Tess

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a state-owned research and technology company, has adopted a new plasma technology for producing metal 3D printing materials. The new equipment is enabling VTT to “accelerate and streamline” its industrial production and product development processes.

The new plasma system was recently installed as part of VTT’s pilot environment for the production of metal powders destined for 3D printing use. According to VTT, the technology will “enable pilot-scale demonstration across the entire production chain, from powder to product.”

The new piece of equipment, which utilizes plasma technology, has been installed at VTT’s facility in Tampere, a city in the south of Finland. The technology will be used not only to transform metals into 3D printing powders, but also to change and modify the properties of said powders, optimizing them for additive manufacturing.

That is, plasma treatments can be used to alter the final properties of a raw material. VTT is therefore aiming to increase the flowability of metal powders to better suit 3D printers. The process reportedly has important applications in developing and processing metal-ceramic composites, which are growing in popularity in industrial 3D printing.

With the adoption of the plasma metal powder processing technology, VTT joins only a few other facilities in Europe that currently use the technology. Unlike the existing systems in use, which are mostly used for research purposes, VTT says its equipment will be made available for both academic and industry applications.

"We offer an easy way to bring ideas and research results much closer to industrial exploitation,” said Tomi Lindroos, research team leader at VTT. “Our pilot environment, which is based on the one-stop principle, will markedly accelerate the achievement of results. We facilitate the entire production chain, from raw material to the testing of the finished component, thereby avoiding interruptions in companies' own production processes.”

VTT adds that its plasma technology will allow it to develop and offer new material compositions for metal 3D printing, which will surely appeal to the energy sector, machine and equipment manufacturers, and research and academic institutions.

Finland’s VTT research center also recently announced the development of 3D printing materials for wound care applications. These materials, which integrate cellulose nanofibrils, are designed to be used in combination with printed electronics to provide up-to-date, next-generation healthcare.

The developers of these innovative materials say they could be used to create bandages that communicate wirelessly with doctors, giving them real-time updates about the patient’s wound condition.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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