As additive manufacturing (AM) technology transitions from the fabrication of prototypes to serial production of end-use parts, understanding of the powder properties needed to reliably produce parts of acceptable quality becomes critical.

Achieving optimal quality for parts does not only depend on setting the right process parameters; material feedstock also plays an important role when aiming for high performance products. In the case of powder bed fusion processes (Selective Laser Sintering, High Speed Sintering, Multi Jet Fusion) polymer powders are used as a raw material. Therefore, controlling the quality and correctly characterising the particles used in the process is a key step to successfully applying polymer AM techniques and to expanding the range of material that can be processed with this technology.

The development of new and economical polymer powder manufacturing processes is key in order to bring to market new materials with high processability that can further extend the range of applications possible with powder bed fusion.

Furthermore, comprehensive understanding of the powder properties–part properties relationship is still lacking. In particular, even though there are many established and standardised techniques to quantify flowability, with one or more associated metrics, there are no equivalent techniques or metrics to measure powder spreadability.

In the webinar below, Ricoh 3D Material Scientist Enrico Gallino provides an overview of these challenges and the opportunities they create to help powder bed fusion processes become even more established and develop reliable manufacturing technologies for end-use production.

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