AM PowdersMaterialsMetalsSustainability

MTC to develop guidance on metal powder recycling and re-use in AM

Selecting the optimum recycling strategy, minimizing material waste and cost

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Roughly 5-20% of the feedstock used in powder bed AM machines is turned into the final part, while the remaining powder material needs to be recycled, to ensure that the business case remains viable and more sustainable. To this end. MTC (Manufacturing Technology Center) and NCAM (the National Center for Additive Manufacturing) in the UK, are developing a new guidance on metal powder recycling and re-use in AM as well as a guidance on sampling strategies. The project will address: ‘Gap PC7: Recycle & Re-use of Materials’ and ‘Gap PM5: Metal Powder Feedstock Sampling’.

At present, AM users are using a wide range of strategies for metal powder recycling, re-use, and revert powder feedstock in powder bed AM. These strategies have been developed on a case-by-case basis, and with no real consensus gained on what is considered best practice for recycling AM feedstock powders.

One of the key challenges that need to be overcome is understanding what are the key process variables influencing the powder quality, and how to measure and track these during powder recycling and re-use.
There is also a need to couple the defined metal powder recycling and reuse strategies with a standardized nomenclature system, and define a standardized sampling strategy to ensure that powder quality is maintained. Additionally, there is a need for AM users to understand when a powder batch has reached the end of its useful life, and in what scenarios a powder batch should be quarantined or conditioned.

MTC to develop guidance on metal powder recycling and re-use in AM for optimum recycling strategy, minimizing material waste and cost
This MTC project will evaluate the advantages, disadvantages, and suitability of current metal powder recycling and sampling practices, collating information from the industry, published literature, and existing standards. Standard definitions and best practice recommendations on how to implement recycling strategies will be developed, outlining key process variables and powder quality parameters that should be controlled during recycling and re-use.

This project will also provide information on sampling strategies for the defined recycling strategies. Sampling strategies are required to ensure that the recycling process can be monitored for quality control and to support traceability. The project will consider the sampling practices defined in ASTM B215 and provide recommendations on how to collect representative samples; it will also outline best practices that powder producers and AM users can use to maintain powder quality.

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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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