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Metal Powder Works is a new company that has developed a process that turns barstock into 3d metal powders. The technology is flexible, controllable and offers valuable material property characteristics – and at a much lower cost than other methods.
Project Sidecar combines a Spee3D printer with a DirectPowder system to create a mobile, 3d metal powder production unit that can be used on site or in remote areas where conventional metal powder supplies are inaccessible. This could enable military units or other users to manufacture their own materials on location, a more sustainable alternative to shipping bulk powders over long distances.
Another 3d metal printing technology that is rapidly gaining ground is binder jetted or BJD, also known as laser powder bed fusion (LPBF). This method deposits a thin layer of powder on the build plate, and then selectively melts a cross section of the part into the powder.
The benefits of binder jetted or BJD are that it’s a faster, more reliable and less expensive way to produce parts than traditional powder bed fusion processes like SLS or DED. It can print with open cell infill and works well for most parts geometries.
Despite its advantages, BJD still has some significant drawbacks. One of those is that some types of metal powder are prone to oxidation when reduced to their atomic state, which causes imperfections and structural weaknesses in the final 3D printed part.
Some powders can also become airborne during the binder jetting process, which poses a risk to operators and can be costly to clean up. In addition, some powders are flammable and require specialized storage and handling.