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Domin develops in-house powder extraction capability for AM processes

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Domin, a UK-based manufacturer of advanced hydraulic systems, uses additive manufacturing alongside other innovative technologies, including modern onboard electronics, position sensing, and brushless DC motors, to create industry-leading hydraulic components that improve the efficiency of hydraulic systems from around 23% to up to 90%.

The company leverages metal PBF processes to enable the creation of complex components with remarkable accuracy and efficiency. This means that the finished product that comes out of the 3D printer often has leftover powder sitting within its printed parts. This residue needs to be carefully removed from the manifolds before they can be used for further processing. The powder extraction process involves thorough cleaning of the printed parts to ensure they are free from excess powder. By performing this task, Domin ensures the final product meets high-quality standards, it is safe to use for its intended application, and that the powder is captured for reprocessing and reuse, which is an important environmental benefit.

Domin develops in-house powder extraction capability for AM processes resulting in  10 minutes to shakes all the powder from the manifolds In 2022, Domin created a highly efficient, low-speed (4,000 rpm) and high torque positive displacement pump. Through the combined use of high-end design software, finite element analysis software and computational fluid dynamics, Domin was able to design and make a high torque fixed displacement pump with a power density of 23 kW/kg, a torque of 40 Nm and a displacement of 14 cc/rev. This project proved the innovative application of radial piston pump design through the use of metal AM. The Bristol-based company continued the development of this and other positive displacement pumps designed from first principles, using metal AM as a key manufacturing and design enabler.

Today the manifolds of the Domin valves have several internal areas and curves that trap powder when printing. As these spaces are small and hard to reach, it becomes increasingly challenging to remove the powder without an extraction process. A powder extraction process is needed to remove the power from these complex internal geometries, to prevent the loose powder, which is very hazardous to health and safety, from being present during heat treatment.

Domin’s production team searched for a powder extraction solution on the market, but existing options were designed for different industries, namely silicon manufacturing, and were prohibitively expensive. Instead, Domin decided to design and build its machine to extract powder from complicated internal fluid galleries while on the build plate. Through dedication, hard work, and continuous iteration, Domin’s engineers were able to build this machine in just five months.

The powder extraction machine takes a mere 10 minutes to run the process where it shakes all the powder from the manifolds on two axes with constant vibration. This process has been hugely successful and has removed the costly risk of manifolds being scrapped due to residue powder, risks associated with unprotected powder handling, and reduced component cost without impact on quality.

Introducing this manufacturing process means that all powder cleaning is carried out in a clean, confined, and controlled space, which removes hazards through appropriate protective equipment that reduces exposure. Domin also saves on cost by eliminating scraps from this process and decreasing the time it takes to extract powder compared to doing it manually. Not only would a manual process take longer to complete, but there are also health and safety risks associated with this. The in-house extraction process is also very scalable, dramatically improving the efficiency of this process.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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